On her intake form “Janice” (not her real name) requested some understanding about her underlying anxiety and her periodic depressions. She felt “at odds with herself” and immobilized with her boyfriend. She asked if I would act as her “sounding board” as she explored her family of origin and emotional history.
Hmm. I’ve never been much good at being mute and inanimate (except sometimes in family dinners) and I am seldom “bored” (I know that is not what she meant) when people tell me the intricacies of their lives. And I certainly don’t want to repeat back what she is saying and already knows.
Therapy is sometimes like a highly caffeinated life – provocative, frequently funny, intensely social, unexpected, almost always tearful, complex, sometimes argumentative. I think that my job as a therapist is to increase tension – rather than “saving,” more like stressing – so that my client-friend can be challenged into change, provoked into a less stuck life.
More “morphogenesis” than “homeostasis.”
Some weeks later, Janice commented – “This is not what I thought counselling was going to be like. I never know what is going to happen when I come here… and I am glad I don’t.”
More than a sounding board.