As a therapist, my day begins with self care. The mornings have been beautiful here – balmy and fresh, so I have been beginning my day with a brisk walk in the countryside near my home. Afterwards, I am rewarded by a warm shower and a healthy breakfast. It is a wonderful way to begin my day – refreshed, well nourished, and peaceful.
My drive to town and the tasks of opening up my office are routines I enjoy. To make sure I am ready for my first client I pull up notes from our last session. I enjoy the quiet pace, the fragrance of my tea, and the “Good Morning” calls from my colleagues of this first hour of preparation in my office.
During the next seven hours I will often see up to six individuals, couples, and/or families. One of the first things I find myself doing when another person sits before me is to take a breath, and feel the energy of the space between us. I find something lovable about the person or people placed before me. My heart softens as I feel our connection.
As I sit with people, I listen. I listen deeply for the meaning under the words, and I observe for non-verbal communication as well. I ask questions to deepen the inquiry, and invite other ways of perceiving and naming experiences. While I am engaged and active in the listening process, I also am still at times, observing and waiting to sense what might be most helpful.
Sometimes I hear stories that are sobering, painful, and angst-filled. And sometimes I hear about the funny things that happen, and the success people discover. When people are grieving, for me it’s like listening to a love story of the deepest kind. It’s not unusual that I feel the pain of another in my own heart.
In the end, I don’t usually solve anyone’s problems for them. I have a deep belief in the innate capacity of the individual to move toward wholeness, to health, toward equilibrium. In therapy, I am simply a companion, an active listener, and sometimes a guide. During my session I may teach some skills, explore alternatives, reframe negative beliefs, notice what’s working and what’s not working, challenge assumptions, acknowledge the struggle, guide mindful self awareness, and always, always support hopefulness.
At the end of the day, I complete my chart notes, tidy my workspace, and reverse my morning routine to close up my office. As I turn out the final light and close the door I head for home fatigued, but oh-so-enriched. My profession as a therapist is the most satisfying job of my entire working career. It is a special privilege to witness courage, strength, trust, and growth. And daily I realize that change is not only happening for my clients – the therapy encounters profoundly change me as well. I have gratitude for everyone I serve.