My client work reflections depict in-the-moment understanding of my practice as a psychotherapist. They are meant to offer you a sense of how I work as a psychotherapist. To maintain each of my client's confidentiality, I offer no means of identification (i.e. I change the name, gender, ethnicity of the client) and I share no information regarding my client's story.
Working with Chloe...
Understanding the use of feelings
And yet, Chloe…
(I lean in to make eye contact with her.)
...You do feel this.
These feelings are real.
I am accepting of Chloe’s feelings. This small gesture can be a compelling encouragement for the person to engage with the therapeutic process. Feelings are at the heart of our work because mood and emotion resonate with meaning. Feelings help us make meaning. With this gesture, I also want to empower Chloe to bring her feelings here.
Working with Mark...
Understanding my approach
As I see Mark walk into the therapy room I am reminded of the psychodynamic thought of "the past is present". With this, I am reminded of the history this person carries with him. A history I am unaware of and one that he knows best. Mark is the keeper of this history and so, I entrust him to narrate it. Through this telling, he is extending, compressing, stretching, squeezing that history into something never before said and thankfully this won’t go unheard because I, the therapist, will be there listening.
Working with Panagiotis...
Understanding how we begin therapy
Panagiotis and I are still at an early stage in our relationship. This is our second session together; our relationship is in its infancy. Space and time must be generously offered to Panagiotis in order for him to find and use me in a meaningful way. Rushing this process with Panagiotis would create an imposed therapy.
Working with Ryan...
Understanding how I attend to the person
Therapists do not pursue information from their clients, unless there are protection concerns. No, instead we attend to the person sharing the story by focusing genuinely on the aliveness of the person sitting before us. In order to maintain the safe/secure base of the therapeutic relationship the whole of therapy must be settled in a space of open inquiry. I have the sense that Ryan is on the verge of engaging with a feeling and I want him to know that this is allowed here. Yet, the choice to share those feelings belongs to him. I am open to where Ryan takes this. This openness to inquiry in my practice gives power back to the client. By working in this state of mind, the therapist is less likely to impose a way of doing therapy and, rather, be open to the unknowns of a new personal process... a personal therapy.
Working with Zoe...
Understanding how I use theory
In my practice, I do not fit theory and research into the work that is taking place with a client. Instead, I use this knowledge to ground my practice. Theoretical knowledge in psychotherapy is not to be enforced. This knowledge is there for me to lean back against so that I can lean into the work with my client. With this, I do not believe I can make sense in a rational, step-by-step presentation of how Zoe and I arrived to her tears. That is, there is no straightforward path in therapy. Instead there is a layering of seemingly disconnected thoughts, experiences, emotions on both the client’s and therapist’s part that bring us to these heightened moments where meaning begins to flourish. Therapy is a shared space.
Working with Samantha...
Understanding how I work
As Samantha shares her story, I stay present to our encounter by reflecting back to her feelings and sensations that are creating an atmosphere in the room. By staying close to Samantha, I am facilitating that creation. These reflections are sometimes her exact words, and at other times an extension of her words by using my felt experience of her and her story:
Playful... Losing Control... Soaring....
Flying... Spontaneous.... Tantalising.... High....
And amongst these liberating words which I reflect back to Samantha, oddly there is:
I am struck by the oddity I sense with this set of words. I wonder about this. What makes these words seem misplaced? Holding in mind these words I have a strong visceral reaction in my body and this is what I share with Samantha. What I am offering Samantha is not interpretations but a new way of listening and a new way of being heard.