Saturday, August 8, 2015

A final sort of statement

There is just something very nice, even lovely, about people coming into the office to ask about their problems, seek help for them.  That idea may be strange to a happy or content person.  But therapists like me live at some remove from the natural world and its pleasures.  We live, in a way, on a question mark, on a crooked boat in the ocean.  So we’re more comfortable being watchful and uneasy.  As for me, I see enjoyment as sweet icing on a cake, and the cake is mystery and hardship.

When a person sits down, first thing I do for myself is push through – with enjoyable perverse optimism – the absurdity of helping someone who is basically a billion clocks and a billion clouds under a coat of paint.  The coat is his personality, his hiding.  You might as well twist a screwdriver in the deep blue sea.  And then, what we do is soothe and bruise him, at once.  This works in actual surgery: The patient is etherized on the table, heart exposed.  But in psychological surgery, to encourage while uncovering blood-red truth, give hope while proving the hopelessness of mother’s ever seeing you, loving you, is an operation that can be finessed only with heartbreak.

So some patients come back for more, others don’t return.  There might be a formula here: If too many of your clients keep returning week after week, month after month, you are not a helping agent.  You are a soothing agent.

Within a few months I will be relocating to a new state.  This feels a little odd – to be bringing my crooked boat to a place where Counseling – by all the group and private practice websites I see – seems so happy and hopey and helpy.  I’d like to make some professional friends out there, and have a strong practice, and not have to keep my mouth shut about being a pessimistic-optimistic shrink.  I’ll let you know how the operation goes.

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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.