Discomfort as a Process of Change
College campuses are now becoming the battleground of the resurgence of political correctness. In the Atlantic article “The Coddling of the American Mind” some teachers in higher education are now mandated to issue ‘trigger warnings’ if their course may cause strong emotional responses from the students who may have unresolved trauma. American culture and the modern day practice of professional psychology seeks to avoid discomfort at all costs. Many therapists, for example, avoid discussions about sex or money, for example. How can one change if one avoids the discomfort inherent in the change process? My duty and responsibility as a practicing professional coach and counselor is to artfully create and maintain a safe “container” in which difficult discussions take place. The following is one way of further describing a therapeutic container:
“an attitude of genuinely feeling/sensing/experiencing the other person as a person (not an object or part-object), and a willingness to deeply ‘hear’ the other person’s experience without prejudgment. Furthermore, it is the willingness to ‘hear’ what is not being spoken, and to ‘see’ what is not visible.” (Hyener & Jacobs 1995, Quoted in Joyce & Sills).
Professors and colleges themselves are charged to create a safe container in which to explore discomfort as a process of change and institute professional coaches and counselors for those students with unresolved trauma.