Friday, October 2, 2015

Lisztian rhapsody*

Should therapists always help their clients feel better?  I believe the right answer is “yes in no.”  This expresses my conviction that some positive change or transcendence – to happy or content or accepting – is likely to happen, or the client deserves it to happen, through the course of a meaningful, difficult therapy.  This may take time or be a quick moment of epiphanic asphyxiation.  But it is the work of creating knowledge and release and the bonding one passes through.  It is not soothing, not bubble baths – until that is all that is left.

But this is only my carried-out attitude.  Though I want my clients to feel better, I cannot help but define “better” to include awareness, “awareness” meaning the person’s truth at the bone and soul level.  There is nothing in me that allows therapy to be bright-thought, false-hope delusional or numb-distracted.  Another clinician, though, may see the world in a happier way, through clear eyes or crooked lenses, and would consider it right to forge a positive feeling on its own merits.  That clinician is in a different world than mine, and I couldn’t really converse with him, though he may sit at the same table.

I’ve never really looked in this direction, but – I think I have good skills and caring intensity in the therapy hour, but may also bring a peculiar personality.  I think it says too much for some people, while other counselors are just benign and friendly.  It must be strange to hear my gentle yet arch humor along with a ruthless eye to parents and the deterministic liberty that says: We are what we were, so knowing it, we can see beyond it.  Plus, a sixty-something guy wearing a still-naïve inner child as a badge of honor could be off-putting.  Or endearing?  I don’t know.

Very soon it will be time to say goodbye to the people at my job.  I have never made myself known to them but for the now-tiresome quirks.  Humorously (to me), I view the administrative staff as more sane and down-to-earth than the clinical folk.  A strange bunch that gets into this field!  And the less strange, those who know they are most like their clients.

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* “In the Hungarian rhapsodies, the majority of which begin in a mosque, and end in a tavern . . .”  From James Huneker’s biography of Franz Liszt, 1911 (Project Gutenberg,

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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.