Every day that I work with clients, at least once, I try to control the direction of the session. This can look like having a brilliant insight and I want to share it with them. I notice something and I am sure that it is the missing piece of the problem they have been working with for so long. They want to go in one direction and I want to go in another. Some problem I have “overcome” is presenting in my client and I want to tell them what to do so they can have the same insight and healing as me. While all these insights and desire to help can be used in a skillful way to support my client, without a lot of awareness we as therapists can really delay their healing via this meddling.
As therapists we all do this. Mentors of mine who have been practicing for decades do this, new therapists do it (but sometimes less because they are more humble!), and of course midlife therapists do this so much because we really think we know what’s best! This is part of the journey of moving from the identity of “healer” to a more fluid state of allowing healing to flow through us. The difference is one of nuance, of subtly. And the means to allow this subtle state is through letting go. Of course we should, and must be trained, we would want to know the language, and theory of our modalities. But these are only tools to support the continual movement of energy in the relationship with our clients.
Their healing is inside them. Their growth is already occurring. We are not there to add techniques, but to help in navigating through the landscape of their internal organization. Places where they are afraid we accompany them, places which are stuck we sit with them and experience the stickiness together, areas of disassociation are processed by two nervous systems not just one.
What happens when you let go of guiding the session, or pushing for a certain outcome? What happens when that strong desire to fix or produce some insight is not acted from? How do you react when your client is dealing with the same problem for months or years? Do you experience fear that you’ll lose your client because they are not healing? Do you feel like you aren’t doing anything and it’s a waste of time? Do your own places inside start to freak out because you don’t want to be with your sticky, angry, or fearful places? This countertransference is so rich! Not only will addressing your countertransference help your client, but also it will help you.
As I said all this is going to happen, it's part of relationship with anyone. But we might as helping professionals take a more humble stance and move towards trusting the healing already inside our clients rather than our idea of what needs to happen for them. Also, being willing to tell your clients when you were trying to control, or meddle in their process is extremely healing! It often adds to the trust and love in the relationship, which in my experience has far reaching impacts into my life and my clients. Please have a supervisor you trust, explore your countertransference, and be in your own therapy. So much good can happen with the appropriate support and guidance!
Karolina Walsh Psychotherapy
Providing psychotherapy, counseling, and support for grief, addictions, trauma, PTSD, relationship issues, and GLBTQIA.
“Karolina walks her talk, her ability to meet another in their capacities is sensational because she has done her own work” -Diane Israel
"An effective therapist needs to do at least two things: be compassionate and provide constructive feedback that actually changes the way people experience the world. I see many therapists who can do one or the other. I routinely watch Karolina do both..." -Patrick Weeg