The Presumptuous Psychotherapist?
Occasionally, it seems presumptuous for me to think I know enough about what the client is going through to be of any use, especially when I can still think back to when I was wondering who I was.
Yet I see client "aha moments" playing out before my eyes over and over again.
Fairly frequently male clients need to be introduced to concepts like compassion and empathy. This arises when- in a couple session- he responds to her obvious plea for empathy with a hyper-rational analysis, often followed by advice on how to solve her problem.
Her response might range from despair, to fury.
I am empathetic for both. Though it’s been decades since my therapist introduced these terms to me I can still vividly remember that moment, and the blank stare I gave him. Oh, I could define them…while simultaneously remaining oblivious to how pertinent and critical they were to a meaningful relationship. But I did learn.
Then practiced and practiced and practiced.
And now, here I am enjoying the fruits of all that work. Not only is my wife grateful, but also many clients for whom compassion and empathy finally have opened a door to intimacy that heretofore had been locked shut.
Ah there it is. The “I” word.
We’ll unpack “Intimacy” in the next blog.