[00:00:00] Sherman Hu: Welcome good morning to another podcast powered by Omni Layne Counseling. I have the wonderful Amely and Richard here with me. Good morning, folks.
[00:00:09] Richard Layne: Good morning, Sherman. Good morning, Amely. Morning, Texas. We’re here for you.
From a clinician’s point of view, what are the negative impacts of labeling?
[00:00:15] Sherman Hu: All right, that’s great! I want to chat with you about the detrimental effects of labeling. Somebody is labeled anxious or depressed or schizophrenic. What is the impact that you’re seeing from a clinician point of view?
[00:00:30] Amely Cardenas: Someone takes on their disorder and it becomes their entire identity.
[00:00:35] Someone from society could see me as “cisgendered female” (female assigned female at birth). So that means that I identify as what I was born as, so female. By ethnicity, first-generation Mexican American. And then by occupation, sometimes we go in that direction. So for me, I’m a student and I’m an LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) Associate.
[00:00:54] So those labels are really great, but labels put us in a little [00:01:00] box, especially if it’s about our mental health field. And even with physical health, sometimes it puts us in a little box. So it’s very narrow.
[00:01:11] When we get a diagnosis, then we’re talking about
[00:01:15] “Oh, you are this.”
[00:01:17] Versus “You have this and it’s separate from you.”
[00:01:21] So the difference between
[00:01:23] _ “You’re a depressive person,” _
[00:01:25] Versus “You have depression.”
[00:01:26] It’s very different.
[00:01:27] What are your thoughts, Richard?
Trauma Survivor vs Trauma Victim
[00:01:28] Richard Layne: For me, I’m a trauma survivor. Okay. Notice I said Survivor, not Victim.
[00:01:34] Very important. None of my clients are victims. They’re all survivors, each and every one of them.
[00:01:42] Also, I’m a stroke survivor. Six years ago in February. It was six years and I’m doing great actually.
[00:01:53] But for a lot of people, when they think of let’s take Stroke and Schizophrenia. They think that’s [00:02:00] it. They’re done. It’s all over with. Especially with schizophrenia. They think that people are stupid. There are retarded. There’s something wrong with them. They’re crazy. They’re dangerous. Okay.
[00:02:13] So you got all those labels. They come out of Schizophrenia and sometimes even stroke. Okay.
[00:02:20] I was told when I got out of the hospital, I would never walk again.
[00:02:23] Sherman Hu: Wow.
[00:02:24] Richard Layne: I was told that I’d never talk correctly again. I’ve proven them wrong.
[00:02:29] See that is where labels can be incredibly detrimental. But even here, like I’m CEO of this company, OMNI Layne Counseling. But when I use that label, all it does is separate me from everybody else here.
[00:02:44] Amely Cardenas: Yeah.
[00:02:45] Richard Layne: I have an open-door policy for the most part.
[00:02:48] I talk to my clients. I talk to my counselors. Everything is open. I am Richard. I’m not a label. I’m not CEO. I’m not Clinical [00:03:00] Director, even though those are my titles. Okay. I don’t use those because it’s off-putting to people. It separates. And it’s just not healthy.
[00:03:14] Amely Cardenas: I think also it’s not like we wear name tags that say, “Hey, this is who I am.” The person that you step in front of ,that’s who you meet. And that’s it.
[00:03:25] You don’t know people’s labels until you start talking to them. You said, Richard, you do have a really great open door policy.
[00:03:34] And if there was a sticker or something that said ” Hey, this is who I am.” Sometimes that could be, “Oh, am I allowed to talk to the boss like that? Or ask these questions?”
[00:03:45] Sometimes labels are really unneccesary. Like you said, it separates us. ” I’m the expert and you’re not.” Or “I’m healthy, you’re not.”
[00:03:54] It’s hard to hear people very separate at times. ” I’m gonna put my label as[00:04:00] my name tag and that’s all you’re going to see.”
[00:04:02] But I also think they can be very good. Like I said, they let us know ” Hey, this is who I am. This is who I feel best describes me.”
[00:04:10] And then also answers a lot of questions for people. I know with chronic illness, once people get that, “Hey, this is the immune disorder you have,” or “This is the chronic illness that is not very common.” It gives that answer to them.
[00:04:26] But for others, once you get the answer, it’s ” Oh, I’m labeled now.”
[00:04:32] Sherman Hu: What I’m hearing you say, Richard and Amely, is that a person, a client or a patient, they are not their disorder. They are an individual that has been and navigating this situation, this disorder.
[00:04:54] Amely Cardenas: It’s the difference between blank person versus they have it, [00:05:00] or they it’s only a part of them versus their entire identity.
The problem with labeling in depression cases
[00:05:05] Richard Layne: There are several sources for depression. If someone is sick, trauma, that type of thing, can create depression. However, when we’re talking about depression in general, because of these labels, they think they’re stupid. They think there’s something more wrong with them. They think they’re worthless. They think that people are better off without them. When I’m talking to a client I really work on evolving that self-esteem and that thought process to a more positive than negative.
[00:05:45] Will we ever totally get rid of the negative? No not happening. But we get them to come to a place where they’re feeling pretty good about themselves.
[00:05:55] Amely Cardenas: I like to externalize their label. So [00:06:00] instead of this abstract thing, I make it an it. I usually say “the depression” or “the anxiety”, so it’s very separate.
[00:06:11] The movie “Inside Out” did a really great representation of externalizing emotions by calling them a name versus the emotion “sadness”.
[00:06:22] The blue little guy was “Sadness” or the little yellow one was “Joy”.
[00:06:26] Sometimes I will even do that in session. “Let’s make a symbol to describe your anxiety versus ” anxiety.”
[00:06:33] Maybe it looks like a dark cloud over them, or a blanket. Sometimes depression feels like a weighted blanket is on you and you just want to take it off.
[00:06:44] That’s how I’ll use descriptions or externalization to separate the disorder from the client.
[00:06:51] So instead of “I’m depressed.” It’s “This is the depression that kind of lives with me. And I don’t want it to live with me.”
[00:06:58] Sherman Hu: That’s where you came up with the [00:07:00] externalization of Amy and Flo, I think.
Other Languages – Lost In Translation
[00:07:02] Amely Cardenas: Yeah. Sometimes it helps to put a name to something you can’t see. That’s why we have labels to begin with. “How do we describe what we see if we don’t have a word for it?”
[00:07:13] But then in other languages, there are words that don’t have a word that translates into English. So even then that’s really hard. And so culturally, labels are also very hard to explain or accept because either they don’t really believe in it or it’s we actually don’t have a word that translates well for you to understand it.
[00:07:40] For a lot of Spanish words, sometimes it’s descriptive. One word is a very long sentence of descriptions. And then you’re, “Oh, okay. That makes sense.” But that doesn’t really translate well for me.
[00:07:54] So labels also do that. They don’t translate well to a lot of people because anxiety [00:08:00] doesn’t look the same for everyone.
[00:08:02] And depression doesn’t look the same for everyone. And so when people are, “Wow, I have this label now. I’m crazy.” Or, “Wow, I have this label now because I’m stupid.”
[00:08:14] No. “The depression” or “the anxiety” looks way different than it does for someone else. Instead of putting you in a box let’s describe what’s going on. Okay. “How do you want to describe, or how do you want to call what’s going on with you?” I also do that. Sometimes when they’re describing what’s going on with them, and I’m, “Okay, what is that called?” I don’t even know what to call it. Sometimes, some of my teens will use sounds and it that one sound describes an entire sentence of things.
[00:08:46] But it’s not depression. For them, that’s their anxiety, but it’s just, they don’t think it’s anxiety. They think it’s the sound effect.
Professional continuing use of labels without due diligence
[00:08:55] Sherman Hu: I would assume, sometimes, just out of human nature, that when a [00:09:00] client is moved from one therapist to another, that the clinician may sometimes continue with that label for that client. And that can be sometimes dangerous. Am I correct?
[00:09:15] Richard Layne: Yes, absolutely. Especially from a doctor.
[00:09:20] Amely Cardenas: Yeah. Our psychiatrist and our psychologist and all our counselors, sometimes, before putting a label or taking on the label that another professional put, in might be a moment to really meet with your client and then decide, “Oh, maybe they were misdiagnosed.” Because that happens a lot, where human error it happens.
[00:09:44] And also as kids get older, they hit a certain age and they’re,
[00:09:49] “Yeah, I was diagnosed with ADHD, but I really don’t have that problem anymore. I can focus in school. I barely take my ADHD meds to begin with.”
[00:09:57] But yet they have that label. And [00:10:00] so their next counselor is,
[00:10:01] “Oh, you have ADHD.”
[00:10:02] And they’re, “Not really.”
[00:10:05] Instead of, “Okay, hey, what’s going on now? What’s going on in your life now that we need to work on?” And ADHD might not even be part of the conversation.
Thorough initial assessment of all clients performed by OMNI Layne Counseling therapists
[00:10:15] Richard Layne: Here at OMNI Layne Counseling, we do a very thorough initial assessment of all our clients. I tell all my counselors to go through these questions, how it is hard for everybody go by. For the most common diagnoses. If we’re seeing that, “Hey maybe this ADHD was really trauma.”
[00:10:41] We go by that, not what someone else has given the client.
[00:10:46] Also, we have a lot of clients who will come in, especially children.
[00:10:51] “Oh, I’m ADHD and Bipolar. I have this blah, blah, blah. It’s about that long. [00:11:00] And then you ask them who gave you the diagnosis? I really don’t remember.
[00:11:04] Did he give you the diagnosis or that they say diagnosis is a possibility?
[00:11:10] “Oh, it’s a possibility.”
[00:11:13] And this is of my main problems with labeling in counseling. Because a client will hold that and run with it. *The labels may not even be accurate or correct. *
[00:11:26] Amely Cardenas: And then we just stamp them with, “Hey, this is what you have.”
It’s not a stamp, it’s a sticker.
[00:11:30] Amely Cardenas: No, it’s not a stamp. It’s a sticker. You can take it off if you need to.
[00:11:34] Richard Layne: Right.
[00:11:36] Sherman Hu: As I’m hearing this, part of me is feeling this is heartbreaking because it’s real and can be very devastating for a client, a person navigating through years and years of this. And it goes back to what you said at the beginning, Richard, with “Good morning, Texas, we’re here for you.”
How OMNI Layne Counseling clinic’s approach is different
[00:11:57] Sherman Hu: And as we wrap up today’s episode, [00:12:00] I’d like to get your final word, Richard, on how you’re here for your clients, those that come to Omni Layne and how that your clinic’s approach is sensitive and different.
[00:12:13] And then I’d like to get Amely’s final words for today’s episode too.
[00:12:19] Richard Layne: Just like Frasier, “We’re listening.”
[00:12:22] We do our own investigation of what’s going on with these clients.
[00:12:28] We can say, “Hey, I agree with this, or I don’t agree with this.”
[00:12:34] Then we can say, “Hey, look, this is probably what the real problem is.” And *working on the problems, not the diagnosis. *
[00:12:48] So if you have a problem with anger, then we’re going to work on anger.
[00:12:53] We’re not necessarily going to work on a bipolar disorder. [00:13:00]
[00:13:00] And we’re here to build a support system. You’re with us, with your family, when appropriate. That’s not always appropriate for trauma survivors. But when appropriate to build a support system for these people.
[00:13:19] Sherman Hu: Amely, final words?
[00:13:22] Amely Cardenas: Man, this topic is a hard one. We’re not saying that labels are bad. But it’s the way we use it.
[00:13:30] With anything, the way we react to something is gonna definitely give either a positive or a negative connotation attached to it. At the end of the day, we’re here. We keep saying we are here. And nothing that people say is going to stir us away or put a judgment face forward. It is going to be a very open-minded,
[00:13:53] “Hey, okay. This is what you’re going through. Let’s tackle those behaviors or let’s [00:14:00] tackle those symptoms versus tackle this huge name that doesn’t necessarily mean you have it.”
[00:14:06] Or it’s not textbook or it’s just something that someone slapped onto you. And we’re not even sure if that’s the case.
[00:14:15] So it’s working like building blocks. We start small and we build our way up to the point where, “Okay. Do we really feel like this label is something that we even need to consider anymore? Or do we need to change things?”
Work on life right now instead of a label stuck on you years ago
[00:14:30] Amely Cardenas: I think ADHD is the big one for kids.
[00:14:32] By the time they’re adults or teens, ADHD, might not be something they deal with anymore. So why are we sticking it on them?
[00:14:41] “Let’s talk about what else is going on in your life right now versus what someone told you five years ago, six years ago.”
[00:14:51] Sherman Hu: That’s great. Thank you, Richard. Thank you, Amely.
[00:14:53] For unpacking labeling, labels. The impact of it. The detrimental effects of it. [00:15:00] How to use it well so that it’s encouraging, uplifting and change-making.
[00:15:06] And for those who are viewing and listening to this podcast, thanks for joining us. Stay tuned next week as we cover more therapy and counseling topics with OMNI Layne Counseling.