Nacho Coller: "Humor is therapeutic, helps to de-dramatize and take distance from problems"
An indefatigable conversationalist who knows how to generate optimism and good vibrations around him Nacho Coller (Valencia, 1969), a psychologist and professor who combines his professional facet of clinical psychologist with multiple immersions in the Spanish media scene.
Interview with Nacho Coller
We have met with him to talk about his personal and work life , to learn about his vision about the profession of psychologist and about his present and future plans. Today we talk with the great Nacho Coller.
Bertrand Regader: Nacho, your work as a clinical psychologist already has a trajectory of more than 20 years. You are one of the most recognized psychotherapists in Spain, and yet it seems that you are always training and embarking on new projects. Is it this vital attitude that led you to want to dedicate yourself to clinical practice?
Nacho Coller: If I tell you the truth, the attitude I had 20 years ago towards the profession is nothing like the one I present now; In those years insecurity and fears prevented me from doing many of the things I do now. I was annoyed by the criticism and also thought that the rest of the psychologists were better than me.
So imagine, on the one hand, the desire I had to eat the world and do things, and on the other, the brake I had in my brain, fruit of my Darth Vader and from me Dark Side of the Force . In my case and based on personal work, vital experiences of all kinds and how much I have learned from my patients, has won the cool part, the part that adds up and takes risks. My Darth Vader is still talking, but I try not to pay much attention to him.
B. R .: What are for you the three virtues necessary to treat clinical cases? And, how have you managed to develop your talent in each of these facets?
Be a good human being, be well trained and accept your own limitations and imperfections. I do not understand being a good psychologist without being good people, without being a good person. Be the latest in training, read, study, train, ask when you do not know and strive and persevere. Adapting a phrase from the great Bertrand Russell I would say that psychotherapy has to be guided by love and based on knowledge. A third virtue is to recognize our own psychological and emotional limitations. Psychologists also cry, we get depressed, we have anxiety and we suffer like the rest of the staff. The important thing is to accept our mistakes and work on them to improve. How can we ask a patient to make an effort to change if we are not able to do so? To develop the virtues I try to be clear about my life project; recognize my limitations and know how to ask for help, accept my many imperfections, try to do my best to help the people around me and finally, surround myself with good people who bring balance and value to my life. Tiny people, those who remain, those who see the world under kilos of dandruff, the farther, the better.
Still and having more or less clear what you want, with a positive mood, leading a balanced life or at least trying and having good people around, one is not free of psychological disorders.
B. R .: You have spoken at some time of the bad moments that you lived in the past.
Yes. Notice that I have had a depression that I narrate in this article: nachocoller.com/depresion-un-perro-negro-y-un-psicologo-sorprendido/
If you knew the number of colleagues who have congratulated me publicly and privately for this act of sincerity and supposed bravery.
With psychological disorders there is a lot of stigma and psychologists join the copulative verbs to be, to be and to appear with the word good or perfect, small obligation and often roll not to be an imperfect person. In addition, there are colleagues who sell that are mega-happy and have the method to have control of thoughts and emotions full time (how much damage makes sell fallacies). Notice that when I had depression I lived it in silence and with much shame and now I am a teacher in the field of depression, exactly.
A psychologist like me depressed uf! I had a terrible time, the next thing, besides the sadness, the guilt came together. Writing the article was balsamic, it helped me to banish the posturing of 'all goes well' and the 'I can with everything' and be able to tell others: "Well yes, I have had depression too! something happens?". I know for the amount of messages I have received in public and private that this post has helped more than one colleague, especially the younger ones to be blamed for feeling bad.And the best? You should see the face of many people who come to the consultation for the first time in anguish and depression when I tell them that I also had depression. I talk about the article and I encourage you to read it, that you can get out of there, that it is normal, that anyone can fall, even the psychologist who is there with a half smile and who looks like Superman , he also had his dose of Kryptonite .
B. R .: In addition to your professional facet as a therapist, you are one of the most followed psychologists in social networks. In fact, recently you were named by our digital magazine as one of the 12 biggest 'influencers' in the field of mental health. What is your main motivation when it comes to taking care of your social networks?
Wow! I assure you that the main one is to enjoy and have fun; the day I stop laughing and having fun my work as a clinician, publishing articles, participating in some media or giving classes, I will consider what the hell is happening to me; It will surely mean that I have lost the north. And I would lie to you if I do not add another motivational factor to keep doing things and it is none other than the personal ego and certain vanity.
To know that my work likes and has social recognition, I'm cool. I am very happy to know that with my contributions I can make it easier for some people to make their lives a bit more fun and safer. And if I also get some smile from the staff, goal fulfilled.
B. R .: Recently we saw you starring in a TEDx talk in Valencia. How did that possibility arise?
My experience in TEDx It was fantastic and from the intellectual point of view one of the challenges that neurons have expressed to me the most. It seems an easy matter once you see the video, but prepare something original, with your own style and without copying, with more than 300 people in the capacity and know that what you say will be recorded and can be used against you ... (laughs) It was a huge challenge and very rewarding.
The story came up after a conversation with the licensee of TEDxUPValencia , Belén Arrogante and with César Gómez Mora (an excellent trainer). We talked about the anger, the losses of control we have in the car, the sellers of smoke and the excesses in the messages of the Taliban of positive psychology and that's where the history of the interior Neanderthal began. The video came later.
B. R .: Those of us who know you know that you combine your experience of many years with a remarkable sense of humor. Do you think that humor can help during therapy? Should we de-dramatize life?
I do not understand living life without humor and without laughter. Humor is therapeutic, it helps to relativize, to de-dramatize and to distance oneself from problems. In my practice, it cries, nothing else was missing, and sometimes we cry (on more than one occasion I have tears and I continue to leave, this will mean I'm still alive), but I assure you that if we put the balance, there is more laughs that crying. It is amazing how we are able to use humor even in extreme situations.
B. R .: We read in your blog an incisive article in which you claim the role of the psychologist with respect to other professionals, such as 'coaches'. This is a controversial issue and from the different schools of psychologists begin to face these forms of intrusion. What do you think should be the positioning of psychologists regarding this?
I am very angry with this topic. Our professional collective is somewhat peculiar, at the moment we see a colleague who emerges, who appears on TV in a debate or an interview, we criticize him and elucubrate about which school he belongs to or that this is not one of the mine; we go directly to the error. I can not imagine two traumatologists doing the same thing as us or two psychiatrists or two lawyers.
In the other professions there is respect for the partner, in ours there is not in general. I tell you this, because while psychologists are with the criticism and we continue to take smoking paper and anchored exclusively in the pathology, in the problems and in that there are things that we do not have to say or do in consultation because it is indicated by the brainy university manual, has come a collective without training that has caught us with the step changed. A collective that, sheltering in the fallacy that everyone can be happy if you want, in the "if you want you can" and the infinite power of the mind to improve in life; with the wind in favor of the media pressure that you have to be happy at all costs (the self-help industry moves in the US 10,000 million dollars a year) and taking advantage of a certain legal vacuum, sell happiness at a hundred and sell personal development without having the minimum base of studies in psychology (the Degree, of course).
I am very sad to see a lot of psychologists prepared, with excellent training, with a lot of desire to work and contribute their bit to the improvement of society, who see it as a hurdle to make a hole in their work and that a guy arrives or tipa who is a good communicator, with some negative life experience which will then be used to sell, use some words of powerpoint or slogan of sugar and sell smoke and take the cat to the water. Something psychologists are not doing well, and I think we have to do an exercise in self-criticism. We are in a society of images, perfect photographs and we must recognize that many coaches, mentors, companions and tarot readers handle the image very well. Psychologists do not just go to the photo, to the static, we go to the radiography, which is more precise and we go to the movie, which is more complete.By the way, psychologists work on personal growth; I in fact do it habitually in consultation, not only we are in the pathology. With mental health is not played and coaching is neither more nor less than a tool of psychology.
B. R .: Is it so difficult to be happy? Or have they made us believe that happiness is a consumer good?
If by happiness we understand living in congruence with your values and with your life project, be good people, show generous attitudes with the people around you and accept that from time to time one will be wrong; You can get to be happy, yes. But of course, accepting that suffering will not disappear, that we can not control everything, that we are not superhuman and that many times we will lose battles because of our own inability to face challenges or conflicts, or because life sooner rather than later will give news that will make us suffer, sometimes suffer a lot.
When I hear people who go through life saying that they are mega happy or happy at all times, it makes me angry, I can not stand them. The same way they give me a certain grimace those people who make the complaint an art and a means to manage for life.
B. R .: Lately you are "on tour" with Miguel Ángel Rizaldos, Iñaki Vázquez and Sònia Cervantes. What is this experience as a lecturer contributing personally and professionally?
Our profession is very individual and solitary, and finding a group of colleagues with whom you share the stage and who see life and psychology in a way very similar to yours comforts you. Professionally, it gives me a continuous learning hand in hand with the best and personally, I take new challenges, new experiences, lots of laughs and good friends to continue traveling, and for many years I can carry the suitcase.