Selfless Therapy Part I: Insights on Altruism in Mental Health


This post marks the beginning of a new series of guest blog posts from industry professionals. We will be highlighting how altruism plays a role in the careers of several individuals. Today we are spotlighting Jordan Nacht, a Mental Health Counselor from New York on the topic of altruism in the therapy arena. Thank you Jordan for this profound and inspirational post:

Selfless Therapy: Insights on Altruism in Mental Health Part I

As a therapist who works in a private practice, I have encountered the mentally ill and substance abusers in the guise of convicted felons, parolees, average joes, and the elite.  Being out of grad school for only eight months, I am already beginning to reap the rewards of the interaction commonly referred to as “The therapeutic relationship.”  Many clients have inadvertently inspired me in a way I never thought they would, and have done so through the sharing of their selfless experiences.  Now, assuming generalizations from the specifics of each client’s case would be like bringing together thirty differing instruments of varying make, tone, pitch, and intensity to create harmony.  Yet, somehow it works.  To some conductors it just makes sense, and the end result is often an orchestra exuding such power and such awe-inspiring beauty that it can bring tears to the human eye.  If I am this conductor, my clients’ experiences are those instruments, and the harmonious, awe-inspiring product is the conclusion that each of their cathartic experiences shares a common bond – ALTRUISM.

And this is what I intend to do in these blog posts – bring together the numerous experiences of the therapy-engaging individual and explore the healing power of selflessness.  So, not only have I just begun a paragraph with the word “and” (which, mind you, is grammatically acceptable under emphatic circumstances), but I am also about to make one of those generalizations that scientists often abhor: replace your fear, anxiety, or drug of choice with altruism, and reap the intrinsic benefits. The term ‘benefit’ is used hesitantly because, by definition, an altruistic person neither seeks nor desires any reward.  These “rewards,” though, present themselves nonetheless; in the form of contentment, inner peace, or any other endorphin-eliciting word you wish to insert.  This is not to say that my clients are all clean, avoiding relapse, and righting the wrongs they have enacted in their drug-induced stupor.  What I am saying is that there is a common thread amongst those who have found happiness outside of their addictions, and this binding factor can inevitably be traced to altruistic roots.

It is obvious there is a correlation between the successful cessation of a drug addiction and altruism.  The questions about the nature or even the causal factors of their cathartic relationship, though, may never be clearly understood.  Regardless, the result is divine, inspirational, and real.  I cannot deny that the relationship exists because it presents itself each week in my hourly sessions, and that is what I am here to both describe and openly explore.  I wish to inspire others as my clients have inspired me.  If the world could so much as glimpse the true happiness and natural high that my clients express to – and, in turn, elicit in – me, perhaps altruism or selflessness could take an even greater step forward in the hearts of man and help to ignite unity and peace in a world where violence, hatred, and fear permeate our very core.

I intend to explore different facets and presentations of altruism in the clinical setting: its causes, its effects, the elements behind its transformational power, and its unwavering presence amidst the healing process in both the mentally ill and substance abusing patient.  I invite you to comment and join me in this venture because, truthfully, I do not have the answers.  What works for one person may not necessarily work for another.  It takes creativity and self-control to even begin this healing process.  Theories will be conjured and assessed, experiences will be shared and explored, and readers will undoubtedly be inspired to ‘pay it forward.’  This application of our discussions, however, is up to the individual.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Ghandi

Jordan M. Nacht, Mental Health Counselor
First Light Psychological
Farmingdale, NY
Cell – (954)-614-9943

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