Recap: Chani, struggling with a lifetime of overeating, follows the advice of her friend and schedules an appointment with a nutritionist. When Chani walks into the nutritionist’s office, she is taken aback by the woman’s obesity and wonders if she’s made a mistake.

“Would you use a professional who shares the same problem you’re struggling with?” she asks. “Would you seek help from a child psychologist who has rebellious children, a marriage therapist who’s divorced or an addiction counselor who is a former addict?”

No Way, Jose

Absolutely not! How can someone who had an unsuccessful marriage give effective tools to assist partners in creating a lasting relationship? Why would I seek advice from a “professional” who obviously can’t use the very skills he professes to have? Imagine a teacher whose class runs circles around him, lecturing about classroom discipline. Would you attend? It’s ludicrous to even consider it, unless you are seeking real-life satirical situations. Perhaps you’re a humorist looking for material?

I’m happy for you that Meira could help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Yet you admit that, had you known about her condition before meeting, you would not have made the appointment. Perhaps you should tactfully inform Meira about different options that can help her rectify her situation.

Good luck to you, Chani.

— Y. Becker

Be Open-Minded

Interesting question. I like to think of myself as a nonjudgmental person. Therefore, why should I jump to conclusions about someone because s/he has an imperfect life situation? Who says s/he didn’t do everything right (or as right as possible — none of us is perfect), yet life spiraled out of control despite those best efforts?

Someone overweight may suffer from any number of health issues, despite doing his utmost to live a healthy lifestyle. A divorce can be the result of so many issues beyond a person’s control — she may have done everything right, including getting divorced as a last resort — how can we judge from the outside looking in?

And, come to think of it, who better than a parent whose child has taken him on a steep, winding journey to counsel another enduring the same challenges? Who better than a former addict can feel the addict’s pain, yet give him the encouragement that life is so much more than his obsession if he will only muster the strength to get help and fight the black hole that is sucking him into its morass?

Would I specifically seek out a professional who has the same issues I’m struggling with? Probably not. But I would do my research and try to find someone well recommended who is successful in his field. If I then discover that he is struggling with the same personal issue that brought me to his door, I hope I would be big enough to realize that it is probably that very situation that is giving him the wisdom and empathy to help others navigate the convoluted journey they’re traversing.

Good for you, Chani, that you were open-minded enough to stick it out with Meira.

— Ellen R.

Go for It

We are such a judgmental society, snapping instant pictures of others with our eyes and neatly compartmentalizing them according to our initial assessment. I do it all the time, so I know.

Someone fiddling on her cellphone at a bar mitzvah? Must be a social misfit who has no one to talk to. He lost his keys again? Must be his ADD acting up. Their kid did what? Well, with parents like that …

Just as we don’t want to be judged unfavorably and unjustly, shouldn’t we extend the same right to others?

If a professional is competent and has good credentials and a good reputation, why wouldn’t you seek out his or her services?

Our imperfect world is filled with imperfect people who are simply trying their best to get where they need to go.

Go ahead and knock on that door. Your imperfect therapist may just be the perfect match for you.

Lots of luck.

— Dan Goodman

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