In my session a few days ago, we were talking about how a therapist is a professional – all day long they listen and try to connect with their clients. I was saying I know it’s Ron’s job to listen to people like me, and I didn’t think he necessarily had to care in order to help. This is his job for goodness sake – how can you dredge up caring for every client at every hour of the day? As clients, we hope to be cared about as we tell our tales of sadness, pain and loss. But for the therapist, they see so many people, all day long – how can they be engaged all the time? Then the question becomes – well, if he’s not always engaged, is he engaged with me or not?
Ron said that it’s a bit of a paradox – although it is his job, the relationship he has with clients must be real, and that that is how emotional change happens. Otherwise he is dispensing advice, which might be useful sometimes but is limited.
So we are having a real relationship of a kind, according to this.
I keep thinking of the psychiatrist I saw years ago. He would yawn throughout our sessions. I remember he was concerned about his health (for good reason – he died a few years later of a heart complaint) and at the start of one of my sessions, he was on the phone for quite a while to a lab to get the ‘levels’ of his tests. All while I was sitting there in his office.
Once when I went to see him, I was having a stomach complaint, and meant to leave the office to visit the washroom. I didn’t make it, but stayed leaning against the wall of his office. This was around the corner from his desk, so the psych didn’t see me there. He was instantly on the phone to his travel agent, finalizing some details for his vacation. I then pretended to come back in and didn’t allude to what had happened.
He also loved to talk about himself, and would spend good portions of our sessions doing that.
I guess I’m remembering this very vividly because that was my previous experience of a male therapist. Ron is so different. He doesn’t yawn. He really focuses on me. Even when I made a comment about the art in his office, he turned it around and asked if art was a big part of my life.
My opinion now about the psych was that he was burned out, but the money was too good to quit. And he believed that the solution for his clients was jollying them along, plus finding the right medications to straighten out our brains. If that’s what you believe, what motivation is there to go through the difficulty and stress of actually connecting with your clients?
I’m mad at myself now that I stayed with this psych so long. I did feel I had no other choices. And he was a doctor – who was I to disagree? I kind of think now that doctors may actually be the worst therapists – their whole experience of success in getting through all that schooling that favored those who had analytical and memorization skills – what does that have to do with figuring out how to connect with those of us who weren’t successful, who are not like them…
I’m glad I’m in a different place in my life now. Having some money means I get to choose who I see, when I see them. Because I pay quite a bit for every session, I get to consider carefully if the therapy is doing me much good. At the moment, I feel respected and heard in therapy. It’s a whole different ball game.