A simple sentence can have a large impact, which we see in therapy often, when we offer a client a reflection or ask a simple question.
When I applied for a counselling course we had to partake in an induction/ interview process. One of the tutors floated in and started the session by writing on the board ‘psychotherapy is the practice of love’ and finished with a large arm flourish, a big encouraging smile and asked if we all agreed? As several heads around me nodded emphatically, playing with their long necklaces muttering softly about love, I slowly shook my head and crossed a sensible trouser-ed leg. Hmmm, I seemed to be in the wrong place. I was brave enough to explain my view; ‘love is a personal and complex emotion to define, I don’t think we can promise every client love… and I believe it is a limiting statement, surely therapists offer much more constructive processes than love’. As the curly haired therapist looked mildly amused by my disagreement I added quietly that I did have a science background.
I started the course, with a different tutor.
I read recently in the very good book ‘The Gift of Therapy’ by Irvin Yalom the sentence ‘therapists have made a deep commitment to a life of service’. I have taken this out of context but as I read this I recoiled. Do we love and service a client? If not, what do we offer them; an ear, a connection, insight, support, a supported reflection? Clearly it is not one thing in isolation but something complex.
A simple sentence, which prompted a review of myself as a therapist. We offer ourselves to walk alongside the client through a difficult part of their journey; we offer our entire therapeutic self, but not our entirety.
I am sure many will have their own stance on what they give, therapeutically and of themselves, please let me know what you think, my views are ever developing.
If you have undertaken therapy what do you feel you have been offered? Is it enough?