01. The Daily Life of a Therapist
I hate and love my job sometimes.
What I love is helping people and finding new ways to help them deal with fears, dreams or anything that is stressing them out. Also I meet lots of wonderful people that I would never have the honour to meet. I have met some amazing people that have done and been through more than anyone should in their life.
On the other hand I have met people that think I do nothing and that my degree was a walk in the park when I can assure you that Psychology is not an easy subject at any level. You need understanding, a great memory even better than great and most of all you need to be able to empathise with anyone.
There are people that have done bad things but they all have their good sides and demons that haunt them day and night. I don’t believe that there is a person out there that is fully bad or in some cases that there was nothing to lead to them being like that.
There is always a cause, a trigger that causes that sudden change.
I can confidently say that each morning I wake up happy to go into my office and talk to my patients for the day and sure everyone has their bad days when they are so angry and cranky that even a leaf blowing in the wind the wrong way can set you off.
Luckily today is not one of those days and I walk into my private practise with a smile on my face and greet my secretary that has worked with me from the very start. We even went to university together and she always wanted to be a secretary, says she is still doing important work but it doesn’t have the stress of leading company and it has ok pay. I didn’t even have to think twice about who would help me with my practice.
I look at my schedule today and see that I have all my regular clients but I see that tomorrow I have a client that wants to be kept private but I don’t see why since as a doctor I can’t say anything outside of the office anyway. I’m going to need his name when speaking to him, I don’t even know how they managed to set an appointment without giving out his vital information but I guess I’ll find out when I see who they are.
I have Dave today for an hour and then Amy for an hour, then it’s paperwork after that. He is getting better and I think that in a couple of months he will well enough to have weekly appointments supposed to the daily, 5 times a week sessions.
I know that we need to move on with him but he has been through so much and he has made progress and I’m proud of him since he is one of my first clients. I have grown fond of him and I really want to help him and cure him from what other people have caused him and l don’t think that is fair to him.
People such as his mother and father and other important people have come into his life, made their mark and left with nothing or leaving behind hateful words. I know for a fact that the people l have met do not deserve this in any way shape or form.
Surely people have caused others enough pain in the past?
Even though l am paid to understand humans, sometimes l have no idea why they would do something. I mean l know what might have caused that personality trait but how can they live knowing they might have just ruined someone else’s life.
Just as l am coming out of my little rant l hear a timid knock on the door and l know that Dave is here.
“Come in Dave.” I say and stand up with a smile on my face to greet him. He walks in and l can see that today is going to be a hard day since he looks anxious and his eyes are darting everywhere and he almost runs to me to give me a hug.
“Dave sit down and we can discuss what is troubling you.” I say in a soothing tone and see his panic ease a little bit.
“I’m sorry but it’s been too long.” He says as he sits down on his space which he even has personalised a little, I of course remove them for other clients but for him I place them back in their place when he is scheduled to come in.
I don’t mention that right now it’s 9:30am and his last session was last night at 6pm, it hasn’t really been that long. He has abandonment issues but when he is calm and with people he trusts he is a very good business man.
“Well then let’s discuss what the problem is and at the end I want to try something that I think will be helpful to you.” I say with a smile and he manages to give me one back so I know that the worst is over until the end where I’m going to try to get him to agree on doing only Monday through to Thursday and see how he reacts to that.
For the first half an hour he describes how he likes this one girl but she works for him, and is even dating someone else so he doesn’t know what to do.
“How long have you known her?” I ask as I hold my notepad in my lap with a pen between my lips and write down if I see a difference in his behaviour and what may have caused the change.
“She was my sister’s friend but then she got fired since the company went bankrupt so she joined my company when it was just starting out 3 years ago but otherwise l have known her my whole life.” He says and by the way his stance and voice have become more open and pleasant, I know that he really likes her and without even meeting her shed is going to do him some good.
The combination of my sessions and having someone in his life that has been there for so long and does not seem to be leaving will definitely help him start to trust people. I definitely don’t want him to start trusting everyone he meets but this girl sounds like someone that is hardworking and reliable. I have to encourage him to speak with her more, the more contact he has with her, hopefully the more comfortable he will feel.
“Does she know that you go to therapy?” I ask since some people think that just because people are trying to solve their problems with therapy that they are automatically crazy which is rarely the case.
“She is the one that recommended you to me because she said that she went to the same university as you a couple of years after you and the school advertise your practice and how proud they are that after you finished your course you straight away started your own company which is really hard to do.” He says and even though he is talking about me and my company, I can see that he is thinking about her and I am getting really excited about this girl and Dave together.
Even though she is in a relationship, if it’s in the beginning stages then maybe something can be arranged but of course l’m not going to break up a relationship.
“Tell me a little bit more about her.” I say and immediately Dave has a rare smile on his face and l’m glad that someone is making him happy even if they are both not realising it.
“Her name is Dana and she is 27 so she is 4 years younger than me. She has the most amazing blonde hair that she just recently highlighted with brown throughout it. Her green eyes are the most hypnotising thing you will ever see and when she smiles, I swear everyone in the room stops and looks at her to what it was that made her smile.” He starts and he gets this far away look in his eyes as he spends the next hour talking about this girl Dana and how she is the best thing to enter his life.
I want to stand up and jump for joy for how happy he is.
“l am sorry to say that our time is running out and like l said at the beginning l need to speak with you about something and l have a second thing l need to ask of you.” I say with a genuine smile on my face since l love when my patients are making progress and it kind of makes me feel like a mother.
“You want to lower the sessions, don’t you doctor?” he says with a sad smile on his face and once more l am amazed how understanding people can be.
“I only want to stop the Friday sessions. We can also work on you spending more time with Dana, you said she was friends with your sister? There could be some way we can work towards you being around her more and exploring any feelings you have towards her.” I say and for just a moment l see happiness at the mention of Dana but then that little bit is gone as soon as his brain starts over thinking things.
“That would be amazing but she spends weekends at her boyfriend’s apartment, l can’t ask her to give up that for me.” he says in a sad voice.
“There is nothing wrong with building a relationship or friendship with her and we can build up to you asking to spend time with her, there is no need to jump into the deep end as anyone would feel uncomfortable. And it would also be out of the blue for her as it’s not the normal for your relationship with her.” I say with what l hope is a comforting smile.
“l would never do anything to harm you psychologically and l would never do that to you Dave.” I reply to reassure him that I aways have his best intentions at heart. I know it might seem like the obvious thing to do or something that I am expected to have but reassurance never hurt anybody and it just goes along to further our therapeutic alliance.
“Thank you Amanda.” He says and as you can see we have gotten quite close as he uses my first name, l don’t expect my clients to treat me formally and then tell me everything private and secret about their life and fears.
Demanding it out of them is not the right way. A therapist always needs to be aware of the power dynamic in the room, you are asking people to bare their most intimate and vulnerable parts. So, any attempt to make yourself feel superior is an abuse to that power and selfish, the last thing you want to do is replicate the relationships that wounded them in the first place.
“Now would you be comfortable with not coming in on Friday’s? If not then l can think of something else we can try.” I reassure him even though l am thinking of lowering his visits anyway.
“l understand that we need to lower the sessions since l do take up your free days, l’m sorry Amanda.” He says and he gets that guilty look in his eyes that l hate, those awful people have made him believe that he is the reason why everyone leaves.
“It’s not because of it being my free days l want to try something different and build your confidence without having to rely so heavily on me, there is nothing wrong with that and we are making progress but it’s always good to try new things. l am not talking about stopping the visits all together but just having one day where you are with someone else and give you a chance to form other bonds. If anything bad happens or you feel scared or anything uncomfortable l am just a phone call away.” I reassure him and l see him nod his approval at my explanation.
I know it is bad practice to give out your phone number to a client and my supervisor has voted against it but Dave is my weak spot and breaking this boundary is something I’m hoping does more good than harm.
“Ok, Amanda l trust you. We still have tomorrow right?” he asks.
“For this week it will be as normal, l am not going to leave you alone for a day l have nothing planned. When it’s time for you to have that day off l will let you know in advance so you’re not caught off guard.” I say and he rewards me with a big smile.
“l will see you tomorrow Amanda.” He says with a smile and he goes out of my office looking much happier than when he came in and that reassures me that l am doing my job properly.
I lean back in my chair and rest for just a couple of minutes before standing up and putting Dave’s things away in the cupboard where all his things are, files and all.
I look at the clock to see that l have half an hour before Amy comes in for her weekly session and l take out my makeup bag and fix my makeup since l have the bad habit of rubbing my nose or just in general touching my face which of course causes the makeup to rub off and my already oily skin to speed up its oil making process.
Now Amy is also an old client of mine who l am proud to say is on her last couple of session. She came to me when her and her husband of 25 years divorced because he got bored and unoriginally ran away with his secretary and she was left to pick up the pieces with her whole life shattered.
It was not the case that the husband was cheating on her for years before the big more but it was one of those cases where the husband claims that he fell out of love and in love with someone new.
I am not going to say if his feelings are true or not but why is it that each time a man does this it is with a woman whose boobs are bigger than their heads and brains combined?
Also what is the whole deal about men always going for their secretaries or someone they should be related to through work and friends? Like for example a therapist like me giving relationship counselling but the man runs off the therapist?
Or better yet for a sister or family member?
I have heard through the grapevine that a couple of my fellow psychologist have done this with some of their patients and l cannot fathom how, it’s the most basic and biggest breach of ethics and abuse of power a therapist can do.
I have had husbands proposition me but of course l have never accepted and immediately referred them to one of my colleagues since l could easily get sued for this and on top of that l haven’t met anyone that makes me want to break the rules. It would have to be someone very special and even then l don’t think l would be able to.
I am a firm believer that if you are unhappy in a relationship then just leave, don’t drag that person along with you and cause both of you to become unhappy, cheating and lying are unnecessary in my opinion, just leave.
I have the urge to rub my eyes but at the last second l remember that l have makeup on and that would be not be a pretty sight to see. Just as l was starting to daydream l heard Chloe tell me that Amy is here.
“Come in Amy.” I say with my smile back in place as she walks in with the opposite expression on her face, it’s obvious she had been crying.
“What happened?” l get straight to the point as she gets comfortable on one of the chairs and helps herself to the box of tissues, would you believe me that l have a whole closet full of tissue boxes?
“He came to the house today with these legal papers saying that the house that was left to me should have been his and he needs it so he can move in with his fiancé. He even brought her with him and she had a notebook and pen and she walked around my house while writing down which things would go and what she would sell and for what profit all the while he was standing there in the living room like we did not share 25 years worth of memories in that house and that very room. He looks at me like l am nothing and he feels sorry for me. l’m tired of people feeling sorry for me, l am better off without him and l just wish people would see that as well!” she ends her little rant with an angry shout and l smile since this is the big break l was looking for.
Before when she talked about her ex or his partner she looked broken and depressed and blamed herself for everything but l’m happy to see this new fire in her eyes and to hear that she is done with others ruling her life. Her emotions are evolving and when you have been in a rut for such a long time, any shift is good. It gives me new ground to explore and gain an even deeper understanding of her life.
“I’m happy for you.” I comment and smile when l see her confused face.
“You’re happy that my ex-husband is rubbing it in my face that he is happier without me?” she says and her voice rises and she moves to the end of her seat, all of her body language is saying that she is ready to attack.
“No of course not but l am happy that you are finally taking your life in your own hands.” I say and her stance quickly changes but she is still surprised but in a happy way.
“Well that is all thanks to you Amanda.” She says and l see her eyes begin to water and l bet l have a weird smile on my face as well.
“With you it’s more than a job Amy, you deserve to be happy and free after the ordeal you were put through. As much as it hurts, he knew what he did and what you felt so l don’t want you wasting your time.” I reassure her since l am not 100% sure but most affairs don’t last a long time, they are mostly a portal for the partner to leave their significant other and the old relationship.
“You are way more than a person trying to see into my brain.” She says with a smile and l laugh at the little joke she kept saying for the first 2 months of coming to see me, she came into my office thinking l was going to ask about her past and her father like they do in all the movies. Sometimes you do have to do that, but not all the time.
“I already have a map of your brain Amy.” I joke back and we both laugh, I have to say that this is by far the best session since she has never smiled as much and her eyes no longer hold the demons that were haunting her for the past year.
She is one brave woman.
“Do you think that we can maybe go out for a drink?” she asks and normally l would say no but seeing as you don’t actually get reprimanded for having a friendship with a patients, just a relationship.
“What do you about this weekend, it’s my birthday and l am going out with s friend of mine.” I offer since l am only going with Chloe and to be fair she is making me do this since l am turning 30 and she has made her mission to find me a guy.
“You don’t mind me asking how old you are?” she asks with a smirk on her face and l have a bad idea that her and Chloe are going to gang up on me.
“I’m turning 30.” I reply and don’t have time to cover my ears before she squeaks and jumps up from her seat and rushes to my side.
“Of course you have to celebrate that big milestone and how the hell do you look 21?” she asks while leaning closer to my face like she is examining me.
“I look my age.” I say and l find it ironic how for a person that helps people improve their confidence and self image, l have so many things l would like to change about myself.
“I see you want to argue and l will gladly pay for one more hour of your time just to sit here and prove to you that you are beyond gorgeous.” She lifts her brow at me and it’s my turn to flush and lower my gaze to the ground at the compliment.
“We can drop the subject now and l will see you on Friday, you can just come to the office and we will leave from here. I do have to say that this very unusual and is not something I should be doing, I have no idea what has made me say yes” I say and give her my mobile number so she has a way to contact me. Today is Wednesday so she has enough time to get ready.
It seems like just an hour ago I was thinking about how I would never do anything like this, so unethical. I could get my license striped for something like this if anyone finds out. But, I guess today I have the devil on my shoulder and he is not quiet. Whatever consequences come from this, I will deal with them but for now I am going to listen to the devil and do something that I will probably regret later.
Who said that only clients can be impulsive and make mistakes? I’m only human.
“We are nowhere near from finishing this conversation and l am really looking forward to your party, l am going to drink for the first time in years and find myself someone to make me feel alive again. You’re going to have the time of your life at that club and l am going to be right there next to you.” She says with a massive smile on her face as she skips out of the office but not before talking to Chloe for about ten minutes.
That’s done now, my clients for the day are done and now l can finish the paperwork and might be able to go home and curl up next to my fireplace and continue the book that has got me hooked for the last week.
I would love to read for a longer amount of time but by the time l get home and cook myself a quick dinner and read a chapter l would fall asleep in the chair and wake up a couple of hours later to slowly make my way to bed.
I look up at the clock to see that it’s already 5pm and l look to the side to see the pile of completed paperwork and l put everything away and tidy up my desk so it’s ready for tomorrow. I can’t help but feel proud of how well my practise is doing and that l am doing something that l love.
Today might have been a slow day with 2 clients, but I do have to leave some days a little bit more open just for my own mental health and to make sure I don’t take all of my work home with me. No one tells you about the paperwork that’s involved with running a private practice but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I grab my coat and lock up the office since Chloe went home 5 minutes ago but she didn’t leave without a promise that Friday night she was going to get me drunk and laid. I just rolled my eyes at her but thinking about her and Amy together against me, l stand no chance.
I’m not the most traditional of girls but l would like the guy that has access to my body, inside and out, then I want him to at least remember my name in the morning. I’m not asking for love since with every case that I come across, I start to doubt it even exists but that doesn’t mean that l don’t want to be close to anyone.
Like every other girl on this planet l have been hurt and don’t want to go there again, is it too much for a girl to ask that she be treated nicely and like she is needed? I shake those thoughts away and focus on going home since l feel my body starting to slow down and fatigue take over.
I’ll worry about my non-existent love life some other day.
It takes about 10 minutes longer than normal thanks to the ever present traffic but by half past 6, I am parking my car and even took off my heels and walked up to my house bare foot and nearly falling asleep as I walk.
I might not do physical work but my job requires me to be concentrating and in tune with another human being, that is something very hard and draining. I don’t even think half of the population understands or has felt real empathy from someone else, it’s more than nodding and saying you understand.
It takes your whole being to be able to understand another complex human being, we hardly understand ourselves half of the time. So, nearly every single day when I make it home I am more than exhausted mentally and often physical, regardless of the fact that I have been sat down for most of the day.
I unlock my house and use my phone as a light since I can’t be bothered to turn all of them off again before going to bed and I can’t be bothered to up and down the stairs again. Maybe this is why I don’t have a body that attracts men.
Here I go again on my own little pity trip. I think l do need to go and get laid, have some fun and feel desired for once. I take off my makeup and change into my large shirt as I dive under the covers and vow to myself that I am going to break out of my shell and have fun.
Strangely as I fall asleep l keep thinking about my mystery client tomorrow and how for the first time in a couple of months I am looking forward to solving the mystery of a brand new person and a brand new life.
It’s kind of sad how little things like this excite me.