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Re: thanks for the heads up, gg

Posted by emmaley on March 6, 2004, at 1:23:44

In reply to Re: thanks for the heads up, gg, posted by Apperceptor on March 5, 2004, at 21:11:25

-----However, I still have to hold that I'd really ask clients of all diagnoses, genders, marital statuses, etc, etc, to please consider that their therapists may be extremely uncomfortable with such requests, and in some cases, feel quite violated.

For what reasons should they consider if the therapist might potentially feel violated? How would any client know what is comfortable or uncomfortable for the therapist unless s/he has the chance to check it out--which, is to ask the therapist?

I am in grad school myself, training to be an MFT. I have been seeing clients for the past two years, and have been in therapy as a client as well, way before I entered into school. I have felt triggered by many clients, and have consistently found it useful to look at those feelings in order to figure out what is going on in my relationship with each client. Often times, powerful progress can be made through working with transference. To me, that is the meat of the work, and the work is hard, for both the client and the therapist. I love this sentence that I came across a few years back:

All teachers must learn, and all healers must heal.

What makes transference and the attempt of acting out from that transference from clients so threatening, if the therapist is not experencing some sort of counter-transference him/hereself? We are only human, after all. Which makes it extremely important for me to get supervison whenever something powerful in me has been stirred up. For that, I never point the finger at the client. Something in me responded; the fault does not lie with the client for triggering it. I may just not like how I feel at that moment. It simply comes with the job, and I do get tired, burned out, stressed, frustrated, especially when working at a residential setting. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out, but I never do. (Thank God.) However, to blame the client, or to ask the client to behave a certain way just to make me feel relieved, I wonder if I run the risk of re-traumatizing the client since all s/he did was probably just brining their full self into the room. It does not make sense to me to invite someone into a space to open up, and then to penalize them by doing so, just becasue they might be saying something that sounds threatening to me. I know that opening up comes in all shapes and sizes and forms, and it is the very way each client opens up or not that makes this work so creative, for it is a true collaboration at its best.

I must say that I felt threatend and worried when I read the few posts from you. Sometimes I wonder what it means to take on the healer role? It is a tremendous job. It does take a lot of love and compassion, and I do get tired and burned out. I do get angry with the world when I see so many wounded and some of them self-destructive. To feel so is human, and to process my own countertransference is the art. I wonder how many of my colleagues feel the same way, and what is happening in each room with clients. Are they receiving what they need? How can this system be improved? But, I digress. Thoughts such as these were merely triggered by your posts, certainly not caused by them.

I must say though; every single one of my clients has taught me something. With their help, I was able to stretch pass my own narrow views and see that, on some level, everyone's anguish is our own. I read this sentence from another book: the gift of healing that we give is the gift of healing that we receive. I was touched because it did feel like that to sit with a client on many, many occasions. At each termination, I do not hesitate to tell my clients what they have given me: courage, love, compassion, self-care, sense of humor, vitality, trust, connection, intimacy, the list goes on and on.

So, to get back to my original questions: for what reasons should clients consider if the therapist might potentially feel violated? Whose needs will it serve? The client, or the therapist? How would any client know what is comfortable or uncomfortable for the therapist unless s/he has the chance to check it out--which, is to ask the therapist? How will clients know what the therapist's hot buttons and limits are, unless they engage and ask?

And certainly, just in my humble opinion, it's a whole other ball game once the questions are out of the bag. Therapy starts, or gets jump-started. Yay.




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