My Opinion of a Second Opinion
My opinion here is just that. An opinion; and the thinking behind it possible a little convoluted but bare with me, because I feel it is important to understand my thinking when I’m asked to see a client who has seen other therapists before me.
On occasion, I am asked to see a client and it becomes clear that I am not the first therapist (of whatever discipline) to see that individual. My opinion of their issue, whatever it is, is being sought as a second option. In its worst, perhaps most extreme form, I saw one client who had been seen by a great many therapists before finally finding me.
In these cases, I always respect what other therapists have come up with. But, and this is a big but, in my experience many therapists seem to have laid their thinking and perceptions on the issues presented them. Perhaps the worst field for doing this is that of Psychiatry. Don’t get me wrong, I have every respect for psychiatrists, their training and their standing in the field of conventional medicine. But it seems they take in the issue presented them, muddle it around in their own minds and spew out “a diagnosis”. It seems to me then, that such diagnosis, runs the risk of merely being that professional’s opinion of what is going on in the mind of the individual seeing them conforming to a set of rules and symptoms. The diagnosis is often a stereotypical label which in turn can lead to negative affect on that person.
Why do people seek a second (third… fourth… fifth) opinion? An obvious reason is that they are not happy with the previous one. Perhaps they do not agree or feel they haven’t been listened too properly. They may just feel they do not have the appropriate level of rapport with the previous therapist. They may have even undertaken a course of therapy and found it hasn’t worked for them for whatever reason. There may even be a level of denial going on. The individual might be thinking “Oh god, I can’t possible have that” and hoping that a second opinion might go against this. Perhaps this is a false hope?
However the client comes to me, if it becomes clear that they have seen a therapist before, I make it clear that although I respect their opinion, we are starting from scratch. Wipe the slate clean and start again. But in doing so, they will come to their own realisations as to what is going on with their issue. I guide, I facilitate. I might present a range of options. But the ultimate realisations come from the client. Using me as a sounding board if you like, let the client come to their own opinions, because at the end of the day it’s that opinion, that belief that counts and that is what we work with.
Opinions are but a perception and perception is always coloured by the experience of the individual presenting it. It is important to gain the opinions of others as in this way we learn and grow with the benefit of other peoples experiences but in doing so we must always be mindful of the individual asking our opinion in the first place and what their opinions are.