Sunday, June 21, 2015

Therapy dies (with addendum)

In the spirit of chips-fall-where-they-may honesty, I will name my suspicion that a fair number of my therapies fall into the trash bin of abort: They stop before the client therapeutically bleeds,* that is, before she does any great movement.  I believe this is because I often suggest a goal of radical change, of purging in a way, not just talking, not just having a feeling of relief.  Hearing this mows down a lot of them.

The ones who stay, stay long or medium long.  Should I worry about those whose names I can’t even remember, as they quit a few months ago after two or three sessions?  I’ve just written a ton of closings, and have a ton more to write (I do tend to procrastinate, sometimes leaving charts open after two years).  Where did they go?  Did they decide they don’t need help?  Did they put a band-aid over an artery cut and move on?  A couple of my brain cells, I’ll admit, wonder if I mesmerized them, did the voodoo by showing them some reality beneath the dream, naming the history under their floorboards for what it was.  Did this open up their brain cells in a positive way, or just come across as a little horror show?

There was actually a time when our little boutique’s Practice Manager asked me to name my specialties, to have the front desk ladies weed out the wrong type, and weed in the right type of client for me.  That didn’t last: I decided I wanted to see anybody who thought of counseling.  And so they flew hither and yon.  Or stayed.

If anything, this gives me a sense of equanimity, or maybe complicated serenity.  It’s like the world is going to hell in a handbasket – Yes, look at the terrorists, the diseases, the injustices and the death – and we play music to commemorate it.  But at the same time I wish they would stay.  After all, what do we have in this world but the intimacy, the communion?

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* This is the leech analogy --

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After writing this post, I had doubts about its quality and asked a former client for his opinion.  Following is the bulk of his critique, which I feel is an eloquent supplement and enhancement to my article:

“Honestly, there were times at the beginning and in the middle of therapy that I thought what we were doing was stupid, or pointless, or too hard.  I used to wonder if, when we were sitting in silence in a darkened room, you were just judging me or thinking I was weak, or a hopeless case.

“Then it switched, and all at once it was like opening my eyes to a new way of seeing.  It still happens today – things that would have sent me into a shame spiral just cause me a second’s pause . . . those old ghosts reach up from the grave . . . and then I take my new ‘me-ness’ and reassert myself over the doubt and shame of childhood.  It purges a little bit more of the poison every time.

“I think that’s what happens to you.  You present the hard road that leads deep into the labyrinth, with no promise that they will come out, but a hope that they can.

“Fear kills hope sometimes.

“. . . if [the article] convinces one person who might be on the fence to keep going, then it’s great.”

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.