Thursday, July 19, 2007

Be the Relationship

I've often tried to think of a useful way to frame this concept for clients and other consumers of psychotherapy: it's not something that I do "to you," it's a relationship. In that relationship you can change and grow, or you can remain the same, untouched, immobile.

It's like any relationship. Do you consider the ideas of others? Can you try them on for size and see how they fit? Have you opened your mind to something different that isn't exactly what you expected?

A client I hadn't seen in four years called. I remembered her easily--she was so difficult to work with. She arrived with a long track record of failed therapies: psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors. All had tried to help her and failed miserably. For some she had angry words, for others, merely indifference.

I thought my attempts to engage her as a unique human being failed miserably when she cancelled our 8th appointment and never returned.

Four years later, out of the blue, she appeared. I was the only one whose opinion she respected, she told me. What should she do? She was still having the same problems. Therapy and medications had failed. I asked about self-help books and the internet. All useless. I patiently explained that these were all the options I knew. She had called me, so perhaps psychotherapy was worth a try now. Sometimes we're able to use things at one point in our lives from which we could not benefit earlier.

I don't know the ending to the story, but it reminded me again how important it is to be present in your therapy, coaching, in your life. Don't just go through the motions; be there. All of you--heart and mind have to be present for change and growth to occur.

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