Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yesterday at Work

I haven’t posted about my job, mainly because I’d like to keep it and it’s not considered terribly ethical to publish information about the marital difficulties of one’s clients, even if they do things like have shouting matches in the parking lot and key each other’s cars before the drive off. So when I talk about anything on here related to my job, I’d like to state before the record that I obscure all identifying details and alter the stories so even if they were to stumble onto this blog, they wouldn’t recognize themselves. Except maybe the couple I referenced before. Anyway, I work on Saturdays and the occasional Tuesday and Rob stays home with the girls. He’s writing his dissertation right now, so he can work from home during naptimes. (Here’s a picture of how he gets sooo much work done when he’s home-that’s L., who enjoys chewing on the hair of family members).
I love what I do-I feel like marital counseling is what I’m best at, but I love the individual counseling, too. About one-third of my client population is under 18 and I consider the work I do with children to be among the most difficult, primarily because no one brings their child to see a therapist for insight-oriented therapy-something bad is always happening in their lives to bring them in to see me. And that makes me sad, because while you can make a case that the adults who are coming to see me have at least limited control over the circumstances in their lives and can act dramatically to change things, with children, they are rarely responsible or able to change what’s going on that necessitates the counseling. They’re usually in a fair amount of pain, because their parents are divorcing, because they’ve been abused by an adult, because they’ve just lost someone they loved and emotionally, it’s hard to be the person who hears it all and is responsible for helping them heal because I find it so profoundly painful as well. Yesterday, I saw one of those kids. She was talking about how she was uncomfortable coming to see me. And I told her that was okay, that some things are just uncomfortable to talk about, that I wouldn’t want to come see me, either, if I was always having to discuss bad things that had happened. She then said the saddest, funniest thing “It’s not you-I like you. I just that I wish I had broken both of my legs.” It’s been my experience that it’s always better to ask what your client means when they say something like that- so I asked the obvious question “why do wish you’d broken your legs?” Because I didn’t really see how broken legs would have improved her situation any. And she said “then you could be my, you know, that other kind of therapist-like the one my friend sees to help her move her arm after she broke it.”

“Oh, a physical therapist.”

“Yes, that’s right. I wish you were just my physical therapist.” I really wished I was, too.