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  • Writer's picturefrederique STREF

Professional secrecy

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

On arrival in New Zealand and in order to obtain the right to practice in the country I happily took the equivalency exams. With joy for various reasons, the first one being to grasp the general perception of the profession, to understand the way this new culture operates, and to obtain a vision of what is available, common in the integration of this practice in the daily lifestyle of the population. This teaching is still a source of exciting discoveries. The code of ethics here can be summarized in about twenty pages, deals with professional secrecy and calls for respect, honesty and "common sense", and "first, do not harm". Is "common sense" international?

In a small expatriate community as we know it in Auckland, there is an additional fear that adds to the difficulty of making contact. "I wouldn't want to run into so-and-so in the waiting room" ... This topic was dealt with from the very beginning of the practice and the shrinks were asked to suggest a different exit door from the front door to make sure that no client would run into another client.

It is of course possible to organize the appointments in such a way that this phenomenon does not occur, and I am very vigilant in taking this additional subject into account. As for professional secrecy, it is of course mentioned in each code of ethics but it is above all an indispensable personal trait that is within the competence of the practitioner, who is also an expatriate.

But what fundamental skills are required for this profession, sometimes mysterious, frightening, surprising, which one day one decides to call upon.

Why confide in a stranger? The initial approach often stems from suffering, or a need to "know", or a desire to be able to "fix" this or that behaviour that repeats itself in spite of the efforts made to overcome it.

What do the symptoms we struggle with tell us? What is the function of a symptom and what can we learn from it? We come because "it's not going well, and yet there is no reason", "to take stock of my life", "to take back the reins" because "it escapes me". Engaging in a work is an adventure in the discovery of what drives us, which we name, mention, evoke, tell as we go along in the sessions. When do you start working? It sometimes starts at the first session, and sometimes requires several sessions of approach. Entrusting one's soul, one's intimacy, one's individual way of functioning, within one's family, evoking one's values, one's doubts, one's fantasies, one's financial situation, one's sexuality is a risk in itself. Trust, from which the link between the client and the practitioner stems, takes place within an established framework, which respects a code of ethics, whose method has a structure that must be respected. The appointment is precise, of a duration previously established, the rhythm of the sessions as well as the cost is also agreed upon from the start. The number of sessions cannot be determined because the work depends on the involvement of the subject and the gradual and singular evolution of each one and his defence mechanisms, resistances which are an integral part of the work. It is a commitment for both protagonists, the moments of anger, disappointment, the feeling of not moving forward, the feeling of having been turned upside down, of not feeling better, all the manifestations give the opportunity to elaborate, as well as the moments of silence that lead the client to reveal himself and welcome the freedom of introspection.

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