One month and counting…

Since the last time I posted, I have been through some significant times of self-doubt and adjustment to my new role in life – that of a therapist-in-training. I have gone from a place where I knew what I was doing to one where I had no clue what the rules were. I went from being a big fish in a little pond to feeling very much at sea. I have seriously wondered if I was really cut out for this, especially because my supervisor was identifying areas in me that needed a lot of work. (Another post, perhaps. It’s a lot to explain.)  I have gone through adjustments in my living situation, in my scheduling, in my work life (my old and now part-time career that’s paying the bills), and mostly in my personal growth.

But … I think that I have turned a corner. With a few adjustments to how I do things, think of things, and approach my new duties, I am learning how to think like a therapist (not like a student) and I’m growing as a person as well.

Chief among the changes I have seen happening in me (as a therapist) is that for the longest time, I took copious notes. My supervisor noticed – and quite rightly – that I was spending more time taking notes than paying attention to the client(s). As a result, I could not answer the simplest debriefing questions after a session.

Finally, this past Wednesday, at her suggestion, I started taking notes, not on an 8.5 x 11″ page, but on a 3″ x 4″ memo pad. Jotting down words and small phrases, I was able to pay more attention to the client(s) and to the interpersonal dynamic in the room: feelings, interactions, beliefs, thoughts. There are still newbie mistakes, but things are much better. MUCH better. I am coming more into my own, and I hope to be able to have more client contact.

Autumn Gold by Simon Howden at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo “Autumn Gold” by Simon Howden at www.freedigitalphotos.net

I am also learning – albeit slowly – to speak up for myself when I need to, and to not let the client wonder what’s wrong and assume the worst. Such was the case when a client wore perfume to the session and I didn’t know how to tell her that I was having a physical / neurological reaction. I should have just said something; what I did was lean back in my chair and close my eyes, which made it appear that I was sick or (worse yet) bored. (Yeah, that was that Monday.)  I have since apologized to that client. I identified a physical discomfort to my supervisor that evening that I was having because of the size of the furniture in the room. Being a very short person (4′ 9.5″) with short legs, it hurt my back to sit on those deep-seated chairs – so she found a thick cushion to put behind my back and presto! instantly that problem was solved. That it took me so very long to speak up for myself was part and parcel of my own personal process of healing from a victim mentality, a healing process which has accelerated at a phenomenal rate in the last couple of weeks.

Learning these hard lessons has been necessary, but they were not pleasant.  Yet … there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, where even two days previous to last Wednesday, all seemed bleak. Like the trees at this time of year which stop being so self-sufficient, my true colors are just beginning to shine through.

And now, it appears that instead of getting stuck in the past, and flailing around in those old victim-based behaviors, I am looking to the future … and the dawning of a new day.

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