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  • Reverend James Squire

What Counselors Know About Trump

We can see important elements of counseling in Trump’s legal troubles for taking high security documents. Notice the following! In the current exchanges between Trump, his legal team and the DOJ, notice that they do not respond to questions that are put forward by the DOJ. They avoid all the incriminating issues such as why did he take the documents in the first place and then refuse to give them back to the archives division? Counselors know that the focus has to be on what isn’t said in a session as much as what is said. When a person seeking help can answer what is unsaid and make that known in a session, progress can occur and not before.

Trump repeatedly asked for certain things from the people leading the archives and the DOJ. When he, his legal team, and the rest of us got the response from them, we were privy to their disclosure of the timeline of what they had established to get the documents e. However, the archives people did not indicate the exact nature of their strategy or the people involved in the process. One of the key aspects of counseling that was established by Sydney Kopp, a gifted therapist and author, is that people who don’t trust others don’t know what to do with the openness and honesty of the counselor. It causes them to have to look within their own actions. Transparency empowers the normal in the person or the abnormal as well bringing to light what the person seeking help is doing to manipulate to continue to be mistrustful. It is clear that Trump and his legal help are pursing the abnormal and mistrustful approach. One of his lawyers signed a document that all requested documents have been returned when they were not. Ironically Trump’s side did not trust the DOJ’s response that the documents were already reviewed for client/attorney privilege.

People, like Trump, who are narcissists only respond to consequences. Consequences, however, are not first and foremost in their mind. They often become their worst own enemy with diversion. Trump does this as part of his playbook. He hasn’t gotten the message that most lawyers give their clients. “Don’t say a thing to anyone.” Trump continually demonstrates his lies by shifting strategies which a narcissist does in real life so that he is not blamed or caught. They are skillful in these endeavors. I had a person in counseling whose husband had two families, hers and another woman who was kept in the dark as well. There was one excuse after another why he had to spend so much time away from each respective home until he was caught and couldn’t avoid the truth. To get into the skin of a narcissist, they do this because their internal moral compass doesn’t exist because of issues in their childhood and/or they have never had to pay the consequences of their actions. Trump has been referred to as the “Teflon President.” There is a paradox here as the best thing that could happen to him would be to get caught for his irresponsible treatment of government property. They surround themselves with people who will support their lie. It is as though the followers are giving him the necessary psychological oxygen to go on with his life.

There is a reference to this kind of behavior in the Old Testament when David sees Bathsheba bathing and wants to marry her after sleeping with her, and she becomes pregnant. He brings her husband home from battle, but Uriah doesn’t sleep with Bathsheba so David is forced to resort to a plan to kill him. He moves her then husband, Uriah, to the front of the enemy lines where he is killed. David then marries Bathsheba. David refuses to acknowledge this fact of his evil ways until the prophet Nathan asks him about what he would do to a rich man who stole a poor man’s sheep. David responds,” I would kill him.” Nathan proclaims, “David, you are that man.” David can’t avoid the consequence of his actions and takes responsibility for what he did. Narcissists don’t respond to people telling them about consequences. They have to be caught more so than taught. Trump is no different.

The reductio ad absurdum, to reduce to the absurd, often occurs in counseling when the person seeking help indicates aspects of their lives that have nothing to do with the real issue that they have for coming for counseling. Their metaphors are inappropriate. You know this is occurring when you feel as the counselor that what they are speaking about has nothing to do with what we are talking about in a session. That is often the question when Trump and his legal team indicate that they want something that really has nothing to do with the heart of the issue which is why did he have the documents in the first place. It is seen in the lawyer’s statement recently that Trump’s storage of highly secret documents is like an “overdue library book.” Reduction ad Absurdum.

Drawing the drama out is a typical Trump way of doing things. In counseling, sometimes it is necessary to not go along with Parkinson’s Law where, as humans, we tend to expand our work to the time allowed. Give me a month to do an assignment, and I will take a month to complete it. I have a friend who has started counseling with someone whose background is in Cognitive Behavior Therapy which emphasizes changing our thoughts to one’s that are more helpful to us and to provide exercises to accomplish that. That kind of counseling is not insight driven. It seeks to change emotional and physical behavior. During their initial meeting the therapist said, “We will accomplish this in ten sessions. Then we are done.”

Here is the paradox. The best thing for our country is to have Trump face real consequences, but it is also the best thing for him. It is the only thing that may help Trump to break his negative patterns of behavior and thoughts as well as give him a chance to enrich his interior life so that he doesn’t need as much emotional oxygen for those with whom he has surrounded himself. It is about power and control. Is Trump using his followers or are they using him? Perhaps it is a little of both. Sounds unrealistic, but I can hope.

His follower who received a ten years sentence for hitting a policeman on January 6 broke into tears in the courtroom and finally realized his terrible behavior on January 6. A prison sentence of ten years as consequence for his actions will ultimately help him. He would otherwise may have never seen the effects of his behavior to hurt others. He has asked his children to disown him. I hope they don’t!

David’ greatness was based in realizing his crime.

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