This is the true story of my work with one of my courageous clients, Marie, written in her words. This is her telling of our counseling work together, and its impact on her life. It’s a terrible, beautiful story that illustrates the hurt that can be done by early relationships, and the healing that can happen through a therapy relationship. This story first appeared in her own personal blog, and is shared here with her permission. There is no bad place to start reading.
And, this afternoon, I interviewed the other male prospective therapist . . . Carl.
His practice is in an historic house . . . the kind of square, old house that can be found in old Brooklyn-style movies. The hallways are narrow and the floors creak, and it has that timeless grace of an era gone by.
I love old houses. And, I really love this old house.
There are a handful of therapists with practices in this house. Carl’s office is upstairs, in the back.
When he came down the stairs and into the living room waiting area to greet me, I was taken by surprise: I’m not sure what I was expecting for a first impression, but he didn’t match it, whatever it was. He seemed soft-spoken, passive, even tentative.
He has a slight build – accented by his casual sports outfit (like he just got off his bicycle) – with a timid voice to match. My first thought was, “If I really turned loose with strong emotion in a session, I’d just blow him away . . . there is no way this man can handle what I have lurking under the surface!”
But . . . I figured I’d give him a chance.
We’d scheduled only a 30-minute interview, so I skipped over many of the questions. For the questions I did ask, he provided fuzzy answers . . . generic, feel good answers. I was not impressed. I had to really work to give him a fair chance – I really wanted to just cut out and move on. But, I stayed for the entire 30 minutes with him.
When we came the question about having my experiences recorded in my blog, he said that would be no problem at all. He asked if he would be able to read my blog . . . I said that would be fine . . . I asked if, in fact, he wanted the address of the blog now.
“Oh, yes! I would appreciate having that! I thought about trying to find your blog through a search, but I decided I should ask you first for permission before I went looking for it. So, I waited.”
I thought, “Oh, this guy understands and honors organic boundaries! What a concept!”
At the end of the interview, I asked him if he was inclined to want to work with me. He responded affirmatively. I then asked if he had any questions. At this point in the interview, all of the other interviewees have said, “No”.
But he said, “Yes, I do . . . “
He asked if I wanted to work with him. I stumbled a bit; then I came out with the truth, “Well, actually, I’m thinking not.”
“I tend to be a very structured and focused person. My experience of you is you tend to be um, well, your energy tends to be ethereal and free flowing. I think I would be frustrated by our differences.”
“What do you mean by ethereal?”
“Not grounded – not structured.”
“Yes . . . actually, that is a very good word to describe what I’m trying to say.”
“The feedback I get from others is that I am very grounded, organized and process oriented. For example, my earlier professional experience included telecommunication systems engineering.”
“I guess I just haven’t seen evidence of that part of you.”
“Ah . . . I can see I have made a mistake. Based upon what I read in your biographical summary, I thought you would be in a fragile and tentative state. I have been trying to be very gentle with you – I have been trying to not come at you very directly. I can now see you actually need a very direct and focused approach.”
At that point in the conversation, something happened with his energy – within a second or two, his energy went from being diffused to being very focused and intense. I couldn’t see any visible changes, but his intangible energy shifted dramatically.
And it felt very good to me.
We talked for another five minutes about his background and his approach . . . the very intense energy continued for that entire time. I got the sense I was experiencing him in a fully integrated state – and, his energy felt grounded to me. The energy coming from him was very, very solid – rock solid from core to surface.
I left with a buzz from it.
So . . . I’m not sure what to make of all this. I am intrigued, but I don’t understand what happened at the end.
Should I make my decision based upon what I experienced the first 30 minutes, or based upon what I experienced the last five?
I’ll have to think about this one. He is so very different from the other therapists . . . I’m not sure what to think of him.
Other posts in Marie’s series:
- Part 1: My Therapist Stinks… I’m Searching for a New One
- Part 2: Choosing A Therapist… and Breathing Again
- Part 3: I Have Always Had to Keep the “Real Me” In Hiding…
- Part 4: My First Therapy Session with Carl
- Part 5: An Email I Sent to Carl After Our First Session
- Part 6: Dad Threatened to Kick Me Out, So I Planned Accordingly…
- Part 7: Do You Feel You Have Intrinsic Value as a Person?
- Part 8: I Am Learning Not to Fight the Tears
- Part 9: It’s About How I Have Violent Fantasies