One of the challenges, or possibly in turns, indulgences, of being a therapist is the absolute necessity of doing the work oneself. Right. I must figure out how to become the client. I have understood this requirement of my chosen field from well before I entered graduate school. And, as I have progressed through school, and some years through working with clients, multiple trainings, etc. this essential aspect has only been confirmed and re-confirmed. I have taken the responsibility of, "doing the work", very seriously and could tell some pretty interesting stories about what that means in terms of encounters with other therapists. Very delicate business, being a therapist in search of a therapist. Suffice to say that I have figured out at the very least that I am not going to hire locally. So, I have discovered some locals willing to do co-therapy with me, who are actually very good counselors, though not formally trained therapists (thank you to the amazing RC community in Syracuse, NY, and to my favorite local kindergarten teacher and counselor!). And, when I need a more formally trained therapist, I have found myself, on the road. Going on the road, and paying top dollar for therapy can be a bit risky. And when it doesn’t work; very disappointing. Though, it absolutely beats firing your local small town colleagues!
After having recently attended a professional workshop, I decided that the presenter might just be a good person to approach to help me satisfy my longing to experience really good professional therapy. Not being entirely certain how he would feel about taking me on as a client, with some trepidation, I asked. And so it begins, the edging of personal and professional. He affirms that indeed it would be fine. Do I use my personal or professional email? Do I intercept our client therapist sessions, with therapist therapist questions? All of a sudden I am really a client. It was such a fascinating shift to move from never really feeling quite safe enough, to finally actually allowing a therapeutic relationship to happen. I do know what a good therapeutic relationship feels like on the therapists end, but now all of a sudden, I am a real client. What to do! Nothing to do but to drink it in. And so I do, for three 2 hour sessions in the space of three days. A little like being on a retreat, I knew I was going to be in for a bit of intensity. And yet, as on retreat, you can never really know what will come of it, until it comes.
This huge sense and depth of feeling my looooonnnnnging. Words cannot even describe, and I am not even sure I have fully wrapped myself around this. But, I have a serious and deep respect for what longing is, and the many dimensions of its existence in my life. Not the least of which, it has no doubt made the search for the right therapist an important quest.
Enormous respect for my clients. All of a sudden being a real client, and this is not to say I have never before been a real client, I have. But now as a therapist having gone on this quest, I feel like I have a much greater appreciation for the courage, dedication, and hard work that my clients do. I would always say that I love my clients, have tremendous respect and gratitude for them, but there is something very humbling that happens as I myself experience getting it right with a colleague, that deepens my appreciation for my clients. Anyone’s clients for that matter.
Depth of understanding how interwoven I am with the fabric of who my parents are: In these few hours of therapy, who my parents are, and how their and my woundedness intertwines was offered up on a very pretty silver platter.
An affirmation of myself as a therapist. It was comforting to receive from a practitioner who created space for me, similarly to how I believe I create space for my clients, and to feel the warmth, nurturance, and safety from that space.
Deeper understandings of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), both as a recipient and a practitioner. EMDR was an important part of these sessions, and a significant part of what I was experiencing and observing, as both client and therapist.
Finally: Having traveled a distance, I was lucky enough to find a cabin on a lake to stay in for a couple of nights. There was a row boat at this cabin. My previous experience with row boats has been minimal, but very pleasant and happy. This time around, as I went to get in the boat, I found myself getting confused about how to sit, how to orient the oars, and how to create that wonderful easy row boat experience. Before I could even get in the boat, I had already bailed about 6” of water out of it; after having made that effort, I was not going to allow a bit of confusion to defeat me. I got out, went back up to the cabin, found a picture on the internet to orient myself, went back down, got back in, and off I went. The ride was not perfectly smooth, but there were many metaphors playing in my head, about the nature of my life, my getting to that beautiful spot, and not really quite understanding how to fully work with it. I had a very lovely, short and somewhat clumsy ride in my boat. Saw a couple of loons and heard their gorgeous song, and went back to my cabin satisfied, knowing that the ride is never quite the dream you think it will be, but it is still my ride.