Gratitude Wednesday – What My Clients Mean To Me

Carly

Psychologists are not really supposed to speak about their clients. We take confidentiality very seriously to the point where we will not talk about our day at work with our loved ones or satisfy our friends’ curiosity when they ask us to tell them about the “freaky things” people tell us in sessions.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned actual clients of mine here on this blog except for maybe during this post in which I shared a very cute story a client had brought to therapy.

But just because I can’t and won’t tell you about individual clients, doesn’t mean I can’t tell you about what my clients mean to me. I am therefore dedicating this Gratitude Wednesday to my clients, both past and present.

I am under no illusion about my role as a psychologist. I do not think that I am somehow more charitable or more willing to help because I have chosen this profession. Sure, all psychologists and therapists want to help people, but I do not believe in pure altruism. At the very least, I know that my reasons for doing this work are not altruistic.

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The journey of trust
I say this because I gain much from my work as a therapist. I consider it a great privilege first and foremost to be given the opportunity to witness and encounter so many people’s lives firsthand. When clients enter my room, they are choosing to impart very delicate and private information with me, a perfect stranger. I do not for one minute let myself forget what a hugely bold and brave move that is on their behalf. Instead of taking it for granted that they should automatically trust me, I like to remember that trust is something that grows over time and that each meeting is like another step in that direction. I am truly grateful to my clients for being willing to join me as we take that journey together.

Hearing other people’s stories
I have always loved hearing people tell stories. My favourite stories are human stories. I will pick a romantic comedy over an action film any day because I love to engage in human drama, human issues. My job is therefore an awesome fit because I get to hear people’s stories for a living. This is also why I started this blog. I want you to share your stories with me. I love hearing about what other people think and feel about various topics.

Diversity teaches us about what is different and shared
As a therapist, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to come into contact with so many different people. Since becoming a therapist, I have seen such a diverse array of clients – old, young, rich, poor, black, white, people from different nationalities, different cultures, and different religions. I am so grateful to each and every client for sharing their stories with me. I have learned so much through exposure to difference but also through the understanding of how much is shared.

Intimacy like no other
My gratitude goes out to my clients for allowing me in, allowing me to share in the most intimate details of their lives, their minds and their hearts. The intimacy and closeness that exists between therapist and client is very special and unique. There is a very real connection, albeit a professional one. Sometimes I am like a parent, the client a child. Sometimes I am a friend, a confidant, a priest, or even a (symbolic) punching bag. Each session we engage in a very real experience of human closeness. This is hugely powerful and meaningful. It is therefore not surprising that therapists also develop attachments to clients. We learn to ‘love’ our clients. We spend hours being fully available to our clients, fully engaged with the material our clients bring each week, fully prepared to assist in the processing and understanding of complex cognitions and feelings. This kind of psychological energy is intense and can sometimes feel extremely draining but it is also extremely invigorating and reinforcing because it is real. In fact it is hard to find anything quite this real anywhere else in our modern world.

Aiding healing
Nearly all that I have mentioned above can and is experienced in the first meeting between therapist and client. But above all else, I get the greatest thrills from truly being beneficial to my clients. I like to think that therapy is very much a team effort. I could be the most fantastic therapist in the world, but if my clients don’t show up for sessions and ‘do the work’ then all my expertise won’t do them much good. Therapy is a partnership, it’s a relationship. Unfortunately, as we know, relationships are hard! Sometimes its easy and it feels nice but sometimes it’s not so nice and it feels horrible and scary and overwhelming. Therapy is difficult and it takes a lot of commitment and determination to see it through. For many, the confrontational nature of therapeutic work will be too much for them. People don’t want to look at their shit. But for those who are prepared to put the work in, and who start to understand that “the only way out is through”, the rewards are invaluable. There is nothing that gives me as much pleasure as when I witness someone having an “ah ha” moment in therapy or seeing someone having “a break through” before my very eyes. Sometimes I would like to shriek with delight when a client starts to shift a long-engrained pattern. For others, catharsis comes from the moments of deepest despair and grief. It is a strange thing to say but I sometimes feel a great sense of relief when my clients break down in tears or express pure anger. I am always grateful for these moments of expressed emotion. Because that is my job. It’s a weird job, really. But it’s the best job. And I don’t know what else in the world I would rather do?

 

Showing 8 comments
  • Avatar
    Sue

    Beautiful Carly

  • Carly
    Carly

    Thank you 🙂

  • Avatar
    Hurting

    I almost let myself completely break down but stopped. I answered a question my psychologist asked , and that’s s it took after 9 months of meeting with her. Does she know when I’m holding back tears, or that I’m about to break down. I can’t look her in the eye when talking about abuse. She broke open a wound. No one else ive seen could. Will it just happen one day that I’ll just cry

  • Carly
    Carly

    I can feel that you’re really scared and your emotions are raw. I know it’s scary to feel these things but once you let yourself then you will feel a sense of relief because it takes a lot more energy to keep it all in and you deserve to be living your truth, no matter how difficult that might be. Learning to trust in relationships is hard and this includes a therapeutic one. It takes time but if you allow it, it will happen when it needs to. All you can do now is carry on. Keep showing up. Stay with it. It will be okay. Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Juliehayes

    Thanks for the reply. I know it’s supposed to get worse before it can get better. It just hurts to feel like it’s happening all over again when talking about it. I know what I want to say at this weeks session so hoping that I will let her in my thoughts., if that’s what she means by me letting her in.

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pingbacks / trackbacks
  • […] I am grateful for each of my clients who have graced me with their presence, with their life force, with their sorrows and their triumphs. I am so glad to be able to sit through your pain with you and to know your suffering like I do. You continue to humble me and make me proud of the work I do. […]

  • […] I have written before about how grateful I am to be a therapist and how lucky I feel that I love my work. Well I have to thank Berlin for that. I have been blessed with a wonderful set of clients here. I think that this city, for all of its sins, does tend to attract interesting people. Without making too many generalisations, I can say with certainty that people who come to Berlin are often independent, courageous, intelligent, creative, passionate, and complex. My clients inspire me because they come with histories that include travel, triumphs and tragedies. But they’re looking forward, ready to choose differently, and are brave enough to take a leap into the unknown. […]

  • […] I have written before about how grateful I am to be a therapist and how lucky I feel that I love my work. Well I have to thank Berlin for that. I have been blessed with a wonderful set of clients here. I think that this city, for all of its sins, does tend to attract interesting people. Without making too many generalisations, I can say with certainty that people who come to Berlin are often independent, courageous, intelligent, creative, passionate, and complex. My clients inspire me because they come with histories that include travel, triumphs and tragedies. But they’re looking forward, ready to choose differently, and are brave enough to take a leap into the unknown. […]

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