Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.
There is an overnight field trip with my music class that I would like to attend, except the creepy teacher who is supervising us freaks me out. He tries to get really chummy with all the girls and it makes me uncomfortable. I want to go on the trip for the experience, but with him on the trip I know that I will always be on guard. What should I do?
It would be great if another parent could come along as a chaperone. At least another adult around would allow you to feel more comfortable. You may want to speak to some of the other people in the class about this. If no parents are able to join the group, I would suggest speaking to your guidance counsellor or another teacher and asking them to help. I realize that this option involves putting yourself “out there”, but there’s a good chance that his behaviour will continue (not just with your class but with others) if it carries on unreported. I hope that you don’t choose to miss out on this experience just because of your teacher. Speak with some of the other girls that have also noticed your teacher’s odd “chummy” behaviour. Together you can create a plan, support each other, and focus on the great experiences that await you.
A girl I work with does drugs. She insists on telling me all about her weekend and what interesting combinations of drugs she tried. I feel uncomfortable discussing this, especially in front of customers and my boss. How can I let her know that her extracurricular activities are inappropriate to talk about at work?
The best strategy—albeit tough to carry out at times—is the most direct approach. Politely tell your co-worker that you don’t feel comfortable discussing this topic at work. You may want to suggest other topics or ask her to initiate other topics. Given that she has been speaking about this topic in front of customers and your boss, it’s only a matter of time before someone complains or before your boss says something.
I just got a tattoo on my back and I can’t hide it forever. My parents will kill me. My mom hates tattoos and I think that is why I got it. Is that awful?
No, it’s not awful. And while it’s always much easier to have your parents’ support on this, it’s helpful if you just stay cool about it. When your parents do see it, approach the subject from a position of logic and rationale. They may not agree with your decision, but it may help if they understand why you chose to get a tattoo. Fortunately, if you ever do change your mind, tattoos can be reasonably removed or diminished.
I am so afraid of spiders. When I see one, I cry and won’t go in the same room where I saw it. This has been a fear of mine since I was little. Is this an actual problem or is it normal?
What you are describing sounds like a phobia. “Phobics” typically panic or become anxious when they encounter an object or situation that makes them afraid, even though they know the situation or object (for example, a small house spider) is not that dangerous. Unfortunately, people with phobias rarely seek treatment. Many are afraid of theembarrassing panic attack they will have, such as how bizarrely they will act if they happen to run into a spider. Some are more worried about this overreaction and its social consequences than they are about the spider itself. There are different types of therapies you can undergo to treat phobias. Speak with a professional to learn more about how you can overcome your fear of spiders. (You can do it!)
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