I love doing therapy. I’m two weeks back from vacation and I’ve seen the whole caseload, from a brand new person to clients returning to treatment after years away, to people in the midst of the muck, and one person who is over her debilitating anxiety and done with the process.
What do I love?
- Relationship! I get paid to intimately connect with people in truth. According to all meta-research the better the relationship, the better the outcome, even with whiz-bang techniques like EMDR. As I tell my consultees, “You need to fall in love with every single client. If you aren’t doing therapy in that space, you need to see that as a therapeutic issue.” (And no, I don’t mean romance.) So I sit in love and relationship all day long. And they pay me.
- Healing! It is so fun to watch people move forward. Whether it’s the dramatic stuff, like using EMDR/Brainspotting/EgoState work to clear PTSD or watching a “part” integrate; or watching someone be able to tolerate their anger/grief/heart-opening for the very first time; or seeing them really get that “it” wasn’t about them, it’s my privelege to be the witness and facilitator.
- Presence! My practice in my practice is about being 100% present to the person across from me. I can feel their cut off feelings arise in me. (Lots of us do it, few talk about, except the Object Relation folks.) I’m watching, listening, processing the whole time. And after 30 years in the field, my brain has built itself huge neural networks for presence and processing and being there interacting. And I keep learning more ways to be present and to interact and to add to the neural nets. It feels good to fire up the brain to do the work.
- Learning! There is something new to see in every person that walks into the office. I’m a mastery junkie, and I’m given new things to master every day that I work.
I’m 1/2 way through the editing process on the new book. Many chapters are a month late. Some are going through painful and even contentious rewrites. And while writing uses the therapy brain, and editing other people’s chapters gives me a chance to learn new techniques and material, the actual line-by-line edits aren’t as fun. And it’s only vaguely relational to rewrite someone’s sentence, and somewhat emotionally risky. (Not everyone likes their sentences rewritten.) After 4 to 6 hours of editing for 2 to 4 days in a row, I “escape” to work, where I get to fall in love once an hour, and collaborate with my attachment objects to create healing. And I think of what Hillel’s words: “If you save one person, you save the world.” I don’t think of what I do as “saving”, but doing this work helps me deal with the great injustice the world over. Hillel thinks I’m doing my part.