This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Your Request

 Response to Poll

There was a request from one of our readers re. the poll, expressing an interest in posts on several topics.  One was for posts about the patient-therapist relationship.  While I am holding that in mind for future writing, I just want to mention that many of the posts here do say a little about this; here are 2 examples.

 A Healing Relationship

  The Imperfect Therapist

For now, I will offer this:  My patients mean a lot to me.  I learn so much about their personal lives and their own interior experience in the course of therapy.  As I mentioned in one post, paying the level of attention that I do to a patient leads to involvement which leads to caring.  At the same time, I must maintain certain constraints.  A professional demeanor is expected and deserved by a client who comes for therapy.  The frame of the therapy provides a sense of safety and a certain predictability which allows the therapy patient to freely express themselves.  Do I think about them outside of the therapy sessions?  Of course!  Do I worry sometimes?  Yes.  Does their new learning, their insights, their making some movement toward resolution, their accessing a deeper understanding of their concerns  matter to me?  It does.  Am I happy when a client of mine reports an achievement?  I am.  If a client has to move away in the middle of treatment, do I miss them?  Yes, I do. 
 When they complete a satisfying therapy for themselves and conclude their treatment, however, I may feel a moment of sadness but mostly I am gratified; I am prepared for this and am working the whole time to help them feel more actualized in their own life and to take, eventually, a happy leave from me.  So I don't mourn a client leaving under this circumstance, I see it as a success.

I am one therapist.  This is how I feel.  Each therapist is different as discussed in the posts about selecting your therapist.  Some may feel as I do or, similarly.  Some may take a different view.  I know that some therapists read this blog---maybe they will comment on this part of being a therapist.

What else would you like to know when you wonder about the client therapy relationship?


  1. In your experience, how many clients go through with the ending of therapy vs. ending the relationship with a voicemail message?

  2. Hi Bama. My experience has been that most people forego this very important stage of the therapy process. A true, in-depth 'termination' process can be the most insightful, meaningful part of the experience. Yet, the majority of patients in my practice, anyway, avoid it. They take a trip and never come back. Or, they take a so-called break and never call again. There are lots of ways that this happens. I have a post which not only discusses the difficulty of good-byes but also is a complete instruction for a beginning therapist who is presented with the opportunity to take a patient through a true termination process. It's called One Door Closes, Another Opens. I can't do a link on here but it is usually on the Popular Posts list.

  3. "paying the level of attention that I do to a patient leads to involvement which leads to caring. At the same time, I must maintain certain constraints."

    I've always wondered how hard it is for a therapist to care about a client, while on the other hand, not get too invested emotionally and/or personally. To me it's almost like having to supress your feelings and emotions, which seems unhealthy. This is my biggest fear for my future career as a counselor. I was a client from Feb 2012-Dec 2012, and my feelings were always in overdrive around my therapist, so I'm hoping that being on the opposite side of the relationship is not so intense :)

  4. Dear Bama Psych, It is hard to maintain this balance. It isn't easy to be a therapist, although often an experienced therapist will make it look easy. This part of the post that you have highlighted is a very important point-at the same time a difficult question to answer. I have been thinking long and hard about it and may do a full post on it sometime. How therapists do this is about their own boundaries and about discipline. A therapist, no matter how relaxed they may look, is always on conscious alert re. what they say and do when in a session with a patient. Upon reflecting on this question, I can see that I have become much better at this as time has gone on. As a beginning therapist I was not able to hold onto my heart, especially when it came to children. But now I know what my role is in my patient's life. The other side of the balance is that, in my view, the caring is just as important as the honoring of limits. It must matter to the therapist how the patient feels, how they are doing, what's happening in their life---I don't see how they can help without that.