Individual therapy is crucial when building relationships with patients, being the best time to delve into the personal aspects of their journey with addiction recovery and being in a center for drug and alcohol treatment. Those working to overcome their struggles all come with their unique histories, relationships, environments, and worldview, and processing these factors is crucial to determining the best path toward a successful sober life.
However, individual therapy is also an incredibly nuanced, delicate situation, and professionals are tasked not only with discussing sensitive topics but paying attention to the subtle nuance of body language, tone, and even the barriers of lampshading.
Patient Discomfort Is Normal
For patients, especially those early in their recovery, individual therapy can be very uncomfortable or even intimidating. Confronting one’s discomforts can bring up many traumatic memories, and employing defense mechanisms is natural and even expected in patients during these difficult conversations.
Crossing one’s arms or other body language defense strategies or diverting conversations to other topics are all to be expected, and addressing one’s plights with addiction can be made more difficult as a result. However, such overt strategies are not the only ones regularly employed, and being able to identify the myriad of ways an individual may try to divert attention away from uncomfortable topics is necessary to continue progressing in recovery.
What Is Lampshading?
Lampshading has its roots as a literary term, indicating when an author would deliberately draw attention to certain aspects of a story that were knowingly absurd. These typically include plot elements, odd decisions, overused tropes, or anything else that would otherwise seem to bring readers out of the story and challenge their suspension of disbelief.
For example, having a character remark, “I can’t believe that Sam would do that, that’s unlike him,” in dialogue can draw attention to these out-of-character actions that simply need to happen to move the story, regardless of how incongruous they are with one’s character. However, while lampshading draws attention to these aspects, the author does little to actually justify these actions, just ushering the reader along.
However, for individuals in recovery, lampshading can take a different form. A patient may draw attention to some of their difficulties — anxiety, depression, urges, stresses, anger, or anything else that can commonly pollute their mind during this tumultuous time. Patients bringing attention to these stresses can be portrayed with confidence, even presenting as an individual learning to be more introspective or having gained a degree of insight or agency over their emotions and behaviors. However, there are a few defensive strategies at play here that still need to be addressed.
Even as lampshading draws attention to specific, poignant aspects of a patient’s recovery, this strategy usually uses this acknowledgment in an attempt to take control of the pace and direction of the conversation. While being able to guide a conversation oneself can be a very positive thing, especially for reluctant patients, it can also present a few unique problems that need to be monitored.
First, these acknowledgments can cause a patient to divert the conversation from the opposite end, shifting to other topics before getting a chance to truly explore the anger that one was feeling.
Next, lampshading can also be a strategy to set up more intricate lies as a defensive strategy. By being transparently open and honest about a particular topic that one is drawing attention to, one can then assume a stance of truth before diverting this expectation to distance oneself from uncomfortable topics.
Lastly, as per the literary version of lampshading, drawing attention to these aspects of one’s self or recovery doesn’t in and of itself address a problem; there are no solutions presented or deeper dives taking place.
Refocusing and Building Relationships
Identifying the hallmark traits of lampshading in patients during individual therapy can be cause for more attention placed on a particular subject, further ensuring that whatever is being lampshaded truly gets explored and that the conversation topic isn’t allowed to change or shift. Even if allowing a patient to bring attention to a topic, recollecting the pace of the conversation can ensure that focus remains tied to pertinent and profound topics of one’s journey.
One’s work with patients will always be a dialogue and should be treated as such. However, acknowledging that individual therapy can be incredibly uncomfortable can be an essential perspective, with lampshading being a wholly understandable defense mechanism put in place to protect oneself from uncomfortable or traumatic memories. Building trust during sessions is a priority when constructing a relationship on understanding and an atmosphere of safety. Accordingly, when lampshading is identified, each person can better understand and delve into whatever difficult emotions are behind it.
Lampshading is a defensive mechanism that many patients may use to dictate how much information they divulge in an effort to distance themselves from uncomfortable topics. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the inherent difficulties and discomforts associated with addiction recovery. We are prepared to help patients create a comfortable, safe environment to experience these vulnerabilities and begin working through them. A patient’s time with us can be wholly personalized based on their unique needs and goals. The time with our trained professionals can be personalized to help each individual explore their own journey to sobriety while balancing their emotional needs. Lampshading and other defensive mechanisms are normal, but identifying and breaking through them is necessary for continued progress. For more information on how we can personalize your Hawaii recovery center experience or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (866) 390-5070.