Think about it — when we meet people in social situations, we don’t tell them our deepest and darkest secrets the very first time we meet, do we? We get to know them a bit more and then only if we trust them, do we share our secrets.
And yet, pretty much in the first couple of sessions conducting the assessment, as a psychologist I expect my clients to disclose all.
Most individuals who are ready to seek help, do disclose. But of course, this brings along with it a lot of pain. In some cases, young people have not disclosed their thoughts to anyone prior to the session with the psychologist. And we happen to be the first. Just hearing their thoughts out loud opens the floodgates. Some of the parents have held negative beliefs about themselves as parents for years. And it doesn’t come out until they speak about it individually in session. For the ones not ready to disclose, when they eventually do, there can be tears. It is overwhelming I suppose to finally come to terms that you may have a problem.
I still remember in my third year B.A. when I had chosen psychology as my major, one of my biggest concerns was dealing with clients who cry. Given that I can cry very easily myself, I wasn’t sure how I would react to clients crying in session. Would I cry too? If so, I’d be an awful therapist! Unfortunately, there was no way of knowing because I wouldn’t be seeing any clients until my second semester in Masters. Almost 2 years away.
I can happily say that I don’t cry when my clients break down. I’ve probably come close only once [Transference-countertransference issues]. After all, the clients who cry in front of their therapist don’t want their therapist to cry — they’ll probably end up feeling guilty! Of course, it doesn’t mean I’m unemotional and their stories don’t affect me. Some stories do. In fact, a large majority does. But that’s why I get supervision. That’s why all psychologists here get supervision.
The reason for this post though was mainly because I found myself thinking how privileged I am that teenagers, kids and their parents trust me enough to share their fears and their sorrows. It is a privilege I don’t take lightly. It is an honour to be that person they choose to talk to [And yes, it is a choice because some people will choose to not talk if they don’t feel comfortable].
And all this again reminds me that despite the difficult times and the difficult clients and sometimes feeling hopeless, I still love the job I do.
Until next time,