“I’m not an app, you know? I don’t live inside of an app; I’m a human.” – Asher Pandjiris
Nurses. Teachers. Therapists. These three “front-line” professions bore a heavy physical and emotional load at the height of the pandemic. There were others, of course: food service workers, transit employees, and unpaid caregivers everywhere. Society’s front line is now frazzled, fatigued, and fed-up. The last 2.5 years (and counting) have opened floodgates of reckoning, especially within therapeutic spaces, and I’m so here for it! So, too, is Asher Panjiris, who rightfully points out that our profession is overdue for an overhaul. Yasss!
Asher claims a lot of different identities: psychotherapist, queer parent, human to two dogs, and the host of Living in This Queer Body. They’re also co-founder and co-director of Kintsugi Therapist Collective, a relatively new community space dedicated to helping therapists build embodied and liberatory care practices. The Japanese art of kintsugi, or golden mending, is a perfect metaphor for the reparative work needed within the therapy profession: more grace for therapists as we embrace our flaws and imperfections and heal our wounds––in full view of our clients. Sound scary? Freeing? Asher says it’s a bit of both. And that’s ok.
There’s a significant shift happening in our field right now, a wholesale re-imagining of what therapy could and should be. Some approaches fill me with hope. Therapists switching off and taking time for their healing, even when perceived as “inconvenient” for a client? More of this, please. 24/7 apps that reduce therapy to an on-demand distraction from the challenging, longer-term work of regular sessions? Umm…no. I’m all-in on democratization; everyone deserves access to vetted care. I’m 100% against tech-bro financing of mental health services as dictated by capitalism. The costs on both sides of the therapeutic relationship are too high.
Asher agrees. “I think there’s something about having all these therapists doing therapy out of their bedrooms and the kind of exposure clients have had to our inner personal lives. The kind of hell that we put ourselves through for years to contort ourselves into reliable, reparative attachment figures is what we thought we had to do to be not only successful therapists but good therapists as well.”
I refuse to go backward. Thank goodness for folks like Asher who’ll hold me (and this profession) to that pledge.
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Asher Pandjiris is a chronically ill, white, non-binary psychotherapist, clinical consultant, podcaster, and co-founder of Kintsugi Therapist Collective. They are a queer parent to a super-rad human and two dogs and reside on stolen Nipmuc and Pocumtuc lands.
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