Behind the Mind of the Therapist

July 19, 2010
posted by Admin

Behind the Mind of the Therapist

Scenario I

           “I know that I drank a bit too much last night, but  I find it consistently harder to get out of bed on time for work.   My boss gives me the evil eye if I am not there on time and my wife, let’s say, she doesn’t give me a break either.  All I can do is walk away from her when she gets on my case.”  A 45 year old male entering therapy for the first time. 

Scenario II

        “I was driving along Route 80 on my way home from work and all of a sudden I felt a tingling down my arms and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I worried about the baby in the back seat.  I thought I should have pulled over, but I told myself to slow down my breathing and then I felt more in control.”  A 37 year old female on her way to visit her family.

Scenario III

           “I can’t get him up in the morning for school…he has been late about ten times just this month alone.  Then when he gets there, the school calls me and tells me he is in another fight or he is sulking in the corner of the classroom.  At this rate, I am not going to make it through half the school year.”  A stressed-out and frustrated mother of three young children.

Scenario IV

           “I never see my husband….he travels all the time for work.  When he is home on weekends, he is watching tv or sleeping.  On Saturday morning he will stay in bed until 2 in the afternoon.  I’ve tried to talk to him about this stuff and all he says is that he works very hard during the week, so he needs to rest on weekends.  I suggested a visit to the doctor…he won’t go.  I f I suggest marital counseling, he screams and yells.  I am all alone raising my kids and trying to hold down a full time job.”  A 48 year old female, mother of four.

      I hear these types of stories and more, many times over.  I often think when I hear these stories……life is painful…there is no way around it.  Life is often difficult and complicated.  Finding answers that are not readily available poses a constant challenge for all of us.  How does one not lose their mind when they are taking care of others all day long or have just lost a job, parent,  mate, or a child?

       It is my job that no matter what problem is brought to me as a friend and professional, I must sit still, listen with my heart and absorb some of the emotion that the person is going through.  Even before the person enters my office, when I am on the telephone with them, I listen for fragments of confusion and feelings of hopelessness.  I answer questions that they might have about therapy in general and what to expect in terms of charges and insurance re-imbursement.  All of this “talk” puts the individual at ease and helps the individual normalize the experience as much as possible.

       I am fully aware that I may not in fact be able to help someone that calls or enters my office; however I believe that in listening compassionately, I can be a facilitator of healing.  From the very beginning of the first session, in asking about traffic, weather or other obstacles that might have been in the way of getting to my office, I try to ease the person in their transition from a burdened state of mind to some semblance of an ordered state of mind.   I encourage the individual to start talking about whatever they would like to talk about; however they would like to present the problem that they are now seeking help for.  I believe and trust that the individual knows what is best to bring up and what is most important in his/her mind.  In maintaining this professional posture, I give my full presence believing that this is a very important start to building a therapeutic relationship.  Over many years, I have come to accept that the first visit is absolutely crucial for the person in need.  Without deep listening there is no compassion and without compassion there can be no foundation for healing.  Listening to one another is everything in therapy and our friendships. 

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