Is there such a thing as too casual?

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FauxLiz

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I have been working with my T for not quite a year and the weather this summer has been warmer and more humid than normal. As a result his office has been borderline uncomfortable temperature wise during many sessions. As someone that works in a professional environment my session is a place I go directly from work. The last few sessions though I have struggled to not be uncomfortable by the casualness with which he has taken to dressing. I would say he most likely falls in the middle of the millennial generation I feel awkward and overdressed for our sessions when he is in cargo shorts, a casual button front shirt and loafers without socks. I know what he is wearing shouldn't matter but I feel as though in a way the casualness with which he dresses is a reflection of his casualness in how he sees our sessions, a disrespect for the courage, strength, effort and difficulty I have talking about the subjects that we discuss in session.

I get it I am over reacting, being childish to judge and mind read his opinion of me based upon how he dresses for our sessions. But it bothers me, I will never bring it up but that is just how I feel.
 

piratelady

MyPTSD Pro
loafers without socks
I realize this is neither here nor there, but I’ve recently learned men have these sock like things that are super low cut so it appears they’re not wearing any socks when they actually are.

On a more serious note, do you think the casual dress may just be for comfort given the heat and humidity? Like maybe his attire will become more professional once this horrible heat passes in a couple weeks? So not a matter of disrespect but comfort so he’s focused on his clients and not distracted even more-so by the temperature?
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
I have been working with my T for not quite a year

On a more serious note, do you think the casual dress may just be for comfort given the heat and humidity? Like maybe his attire will become more professional once this horrible heat passes in a couple weeks?

Which bears the question: How did he dress in winter?

I'm sorry I can't be of more help, because I'm the exact opposite: casualness comforts me.

But I would actually encourage you to talk about this with him.
 
Well.... I get it! Must be a generational thing. lol

However I've spent most of my life in a uniform or knowing that I would return to it at some point.

Clothes mean a lot to me and you are right they can say something about the wearer but what exactly? Judging by how much people are prepared to pay and the lengths they go to attain 'that' look I don't think it's accidental that he dresses that way. So what's his statement @FauxLiz lol... accidental academic? Casual carer? Idk...

I'm not sure you can really address (no pun intended) his attire. But at the same time I don't believe you should be concerned that you are over dressed because that is your professional attire and well done you for keeping that standard. Can you really be over dressed especially in that setting?

My psydoc wears a suit but usually no tie. My T wears whatever seems to be located on the bedroom floor (or it appears that way). lol

I suppose all I would be mostly concerned about is your comfort. Is the room air-conditioned and quiet? Is he paying attention or looking in the mirror? Idk...
 

Sideways

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Most of my pdocs over the years have gone for smart casual to corporate professional looks. And the more I’ve paid? The smarter they dress. But I don’t think it’s for my benefit - pdocs need to be considered ‘professional’ by their colleagues and peers. And dressing the part is a really easy way to impart that impression quickly.

Psychologists and other mental health workers? It’s been pretty casual, almost across the board. And the longer they’ve been working in mental health? The more casual it seems to get.

And then there’s psych ward nurses. Who, around my area? Are most often instructed to dress in casual attire, except at private facilities which enforce a staff uniform. That’s to at least give the appearance of being someone approachable. Someone with a life that will be able to talk to you on your level. Specifically to distinguish them from the often more imposing pdocs.

If his attire has changed? Or if you just want to settle this in your mind? I’d just straight up ask. It’s a reasonable question.

As for feeling overdressed? That sounds a lot like an upbringing/socio-cultural thing maybe? And if you dress smart? I think that’s something to feel proud of:)
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I'm not sure how to feel about this as I can't get a sense of him. Actually I do have a sense of him and it's not good but I think I'm overreacting?

I'm with you in general. I go to an office in the city and it's very formal but, I see women and it's not the same thing.

So the idea I got from your post is "I don't like him." I could parse it out more and say I don't like this or that about what he's doing but, same same to me.

So I'd tell him lol. The first thing I do when I walk in my therapists office is start shouting "it's too hot or too cold!" Lol.

If I was in a business suit and he was dressed like that I'd be pissed!

It's not important if it's right or wrong, so much is wrong about us which we are trying to put right hence the therapy, it's how you feel.

You are the important one here. You have to like him and feel comfortable. I see my therapist today and then we take the rest of the summer off. It's fine but a few years ago I would've been all like needy and "can I call you or text you."

I'm glad I'm not feeling quite so much like that now.

So get a therapist with a working AC and who knows he has to idk what, be a little more professional? I don't think you're set on him.
 

Eagle3

MyPTSD Pro
My T dresses pretty sharp for work, but when he wears a full suit, I get uncomfortable (suits make me very nervous). I prefer it when he loses the jacket and is just hanging out in his shirt and vest. On rare occasions, he's slipped his shoes off (I always remove mine for sessions, since I stretch out on his couch). I'm on the Autism spectrum, so comfort in dress is absolutely paramount to me. As long as we're both comfy, I don't care what he's wearing. I've seen him in casual situations, and love his collection of sarcastic t-shirts! I've had to go to sessions directly from work which I hate doing since I work at a barn and am usually disgustingly filthy by the end of the day, so walking into his nice office and seeing him all dressed up just makes me feel even dirtier, so I try not to schedule appointments after work.

We're both pretty temp-sensitive, so I get wardrobe changes for the summer heat, but yeah, talk to your T about it. Mine knows suits unnerve me...
 

FauxLiz

Sponsor
men have these sock like things that are super low cut
As a mother of a teenage boy I am aware of this current sock fashion, but alas he took one shoe off during our session to scratch his foot and nope, no socks. Sort made him more human to me but as a woman that still believes in wearing pantyhose with dresses/skirts and knee highs with slacks I guess I am out of sync with the times.
Is the room air-conditioned and quiet? Is he paying attention
I really don't think adequately. His office shares a wall with the waiting room and there is a family of young kids that come in either at the same time as me or sometimes shortly after and you can hear them in the waiting room. I have considered asking him to add a white noise machine because when I am in the waiting room I sit across the room from his office and can still hear conversational murmurs I would hate to think what I could hear if I was just on the other side of the wall. As for A/C it definitely in not cool enough in my opinion.
Psychologists and other mental health workers? It’s been pretty casual, almost across the board
Until the last couple of weeks he dressed in what I have always been taught was business casual. Casual slacks, nice shirt (polo, button front) no tie and that was fine. Although honestly I wish he would wear long sleeves as he has a significant amount of tattoos on both arms and I find my self distracted at times trying to figure out what they are but am too embarrassed to just ask.
The first thing I do when I walk in my therapists office is start shouting "it's too hot or too cold!
It is probably a family/cultural/age thing but I would never bring up the temperature, I was brought up that it is the responsibility of the space holder to ask if guests are comfortable and as he never asks I feel as though I would be rude to bring it up. (also all my previous T have always asked if the temp was okay.
My T dresses pretty sharp for work, but when he wears a full suit
I am not wanting him to wear a suit, I think that for someone that sits and listens to people all day every day that would be really uncomfortable not to mention that I sometimes wear suits to work, for me they are sort of my suit of armor and if my T was wearing one and didn't explain it as it would be out of the norm I would be very uncomfortable. My last therapist I watched him transition his wardrobe and it was interesting. He has worked for a corporate type mental health org in a major city for over a decade and was required to wear a tie to work every day so he did. When I started seeing him he had relocated and opened his own practice but still dressed as he had been required which I kind of liked as he had great taste in ties and I enjoyed seeing those. Then one day I came in and he had on a polo and it threw me enough to ask about the change. He told me that he had realized that it was his practice and he could set the dress code and he wanted to be more comfortable and casual. Occasionally, we would have Saturday sessions and he would wear jeans to the office but never shorts.

I do like this guy, and I guess part of the reason I am trying not to make a fuss currently is that beginning in Sept through the end of the calendar year we will be transitioning to teletherapy as he is moving for a semester out of state to follow his wife for a school program that she is doing. (yes it is strange for me and has caused all sorts of abandonment issues as I am afraid that he won't come back but we are working on it). I guess maybe the wardrobe is just one more thing that shows our age difference (him younger) and my questions about whether he can help me because of the possible lack of experience.
 

Friday

Moderator
I wonder what would happen if you moved your appt 15 minutes and stopped off at the gym on your way to therapy to wash the day off & change into yoga/Pilates clothes or a sundress & sandals? If it would change the content of your therapy to shift out of work mode before you met with him? If you’d get more done, by taking down some walls before you arrived, less because it’s more personal and that’s anathema, Or if there would be no measurable change?

It’s just a thought.

An experiment for the dog days of summer.

It might also be good practice for the change this fall... Adapting to a small change, trying a new approach that may or may not work & either is fine it’s a temporary situation, before a larger one.
 

FauxLiz

Sponsor
@Friday shifting therapy 15 minutes isn't possible as he has a client right after me so I would essentially lose 15 min of my time. Also, stopping to change not really an option, I drive just under 90 minutes one way to see this therapist as I am currently living and working in a very rural area with limited mental health resources. The 90 min drive was the closest metro area that had trauma therapists and as it is I use flex time every week and leave my job early in order to make it to therapy.

I really miss my old T, I know is was just a small thing but we met at 7 am twice a week. His office was thirty min from my job and we actually didn't open until 8:30 so unless there was a traffic issue I was never late for work and if things became too intense during my session I still had time to call in before they opened and take a 1/2 day or full day off without penalty.

My current 5 pm time is nice as I have the entire evening in which to decompress including the drive home where I will sometimes stop and treat myself to dinner out to give myself more time but it is hard on the work schedule. If it wasn't for flex time (and rarely not working through lunch at my desk because I also accrue comp time) I couldn't make this work.
 
I wonder two things:

1. Could you change before you leave work? This seems easy enough - just use a few minutes of your work day to pop into the restroom and alter your outfit.
2. Could you re-adjust your own perceptions of "proper" dress and what that means in the workplace? Over the last many years (at least in the states), there has been a steady move towards more casual workplace dress. And, I think that given the political and social environments, ie the recession, that millennials were born into, they are a really hard-working, nose-to-the-grind-stone generation. I don't think that causal dress indicates casual approach for the younger crowd.

Edited to add: sometimes, when I catch myself being caught up over things that I know don't really matter, I'm really upset about something larger. So, perhaps the concern over how he dresses is not about how he dresses, but about something else that is upsetting you?
 
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