LOVE IN THERAPY
Perhaps it is fitting that this post is happening in fits and starts. It is making me tired and confused. The clarity I seek is just not coming. Ahhh love. I started writing on love in therapy in response to series of emails with a reader of this blog. She found it strange when I mentioned that love was a controversial topic among therapists.
There are concerns about professionalism. And professional distance. And boundaries.
And I think it is frightening to admit our feelings about our clients - we therapists are vulnerable humans too.
I have never had a therapist say that she loved me, her client. And while I love my clients I have never said it to them.
That’s right - I love my clients.
It started with one client. It was obvious to me that she and I had gone somewhere new - different from where I had gone with others. And that I loved her.
But what does that mean?
Here is what I mean when I say I love my clients:
I attune to them. I follow them in their many expressions. Their experience is of consequence to me.
I care about the outcomes of their lives - the results of their efforts.
I prioritize our time together - I move sessions only when absolutely necessary.
My response to my clients is an issue to me. I reflect on myself, I bring my responses to colleagues and to supervision. I try to learn from my responses to my clients so that I can help them further.
My clients move me, frustrate me, bore me, excite me. I allow myself to be affected by them.
Ahh love. The feeling of it and then the practice of it. The cruelty that is a part of so many love relationships. The compromises and bargains and blinders. The security, the companionship, the teamwork. The heart-burstingness of it. The stifling boredom.
Beneath it all, for me, is this assumption: the work matters. The person, my client, matters.
And to me that combination of commitment and feelings - that is love.
As I come to the end of this piece I am thinking - is this all there is? I need something with more punch. Something cleverer.
And then I think. Yes - this is it. How telling that I search for more.
This is it. A springtime post about love.
To support the work of this site, please sign-up for my email list here.