Episode 17: Therapy is Political: A Conversation with Nam Rindani

Nam Rindani joins us to talk about storytelling, listening, the therapist-client relationship, politics, restorative justice, and so much more. Much of the conversation focuses on the therapist’s relationship with herself, with her own stories, and with her clients, but everyone interested in understanding the human experience will see themselves in this episode.

Nam gives us her own definition of the Practice of Being Seen - and we adore it. It’s the confident, solid practice of trusting that whoever you are and whatever part of you shows up. It’s the simple act of existing without apology. 

Throughout the conversation, we celebrate the dance between stories and relationships, especially in the therapy space. According to Nam, therapists are human beings first and they play the part of therapists in certain settings. How many therapists have bought into the myth that they’re neutral, that they’re emotional robots? This conversation is rich with alternative ways of showing up for yourself, as an individual and as a professional.

Rebecca delves into her own experience holding consultation group sessions for therapists: how can we get our clients to talk about their fear of feelings when we’re sometimes afraid of our own? How can therapists show up in their humanity? We talk about the act of self-censoring and how it’s something all of us do - especially as parents.

And we explore the concept of “normal” and how there really are 7 billion definitions of that term. Why isn’t the first question we ask a client “what is ‘normal’ to you”? That question establishes consent and prevents pathologizing. It gives people permission to open up about who they really are.

We discuss distraction and filtering in our personal lives, and that opens the topic of politics. What does it mean that so many of us have turned down the news now that we’re several months into the “new normal” in the US? We may be numbing out the parts that hurt way too much to stay present. 

This is where Nam lets off the fireworks: “Therapy is a deeply political experience… It’s a constant negotiation between two people trying to figure out how to use, deny, recognize the power in this room, of authority and expertise. In therapy, someone is struggling and someone seems to have their shit together.” Therapy must focus on the personal, but also includes more vast experiences of oppression and marginalization.”When we deny talking about politics as therapists, we are sedating our clients and we are choosing to be sedated ourselves.” Trauma and childhood experiences are deeply important, but it’s important to realize that those experiences are a result of the way those around you have been influenced by their society and politics.

This is what therapy through the restorative justice perspective looks… Couples therapy is understood as a negotiation of power through a lens of oppression and marginalization. You have to understand yourself as someone who has inflicted pain and injustice in order to heal.

Nam Rindani is a licensed marriage/couples and family therapist with an in-person and virtual therapy practice in San Diego. With 14 years of experience as a therapist in India and United States creating leaders out of those who struggle, her work spans working with kids in poverty stricken neighborhoods of India to adults on welfare in the United States. She currently practices in Central San Diego primarily specializing in working with Men as well as Activists and Leaders.. 

Keep the Nam goodness coming - subscribe to her twice-monthly newsletter, Shrinkable.

Thanks to this week’s sponsor: Plum Deluxe

When we read the ingredients in this week’s variety, Reading Nook Blend, Nam says, “that sounds like a hug in tea cup!” She’s so right!

We invite you to treat yourself to a Plum Deluxe tea of the month subscription for only $10/month. You'll receive a hand blended, all-organic, loose leaf tea thoughtfully chosen for the season.  Tea club members also enjoy special benefits like gift swaps, free shipping on all purchases, and access to a very loving tea community.  A tea subscription also makes a fantastic gift for clients, colleagues, and those you love. Begin your tea adventure!

And please note that registration is open for the Practice of Being Seen Retreat for Therapist-Healers that is coming up August 13 - 16, 2017. 

(Re)Vision: Explore Your Stories, Shape Your Future will be held at the Menla Mountain Retreat  New York’s gorgeous Catskill Mountains.