In my attempt to stay socially connected, I joined up with a group of neighbors and friends for a book club about six months ago. It is always a fun time grabbing a bite to eat over some light conversation (approximately 5% of which is about the month's book choice). We have never put any pressure on one another to read the books, so until our last book club night, I hadn’t. Whoops!
There are certain times in my life when I choose to separate being a mother/wife, friend/neighbor, and being a mental health/substance use practitioner. There have been times when my clients have seen me in public when I am wearing my “mom hat” and I am chasing my daughter who is running away from me in cereal aisle at the grocery store. There are other times when I have my “friend hat” on and the therapy techniques I use in session fly out the window, along with any self-restraint I use at work with my potty-mouth. I try to keep the time I spend in the office as work time, and keep home time as home time (unless I have a client experiencing an emergency). Well I finally read our book of the month, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, and I could not interpret this book from anywhere else than my “therapist hat.” This may explain why I had been finishing the final pages over my lunch break and between sessions in the office.
So often in my career as a therapist have people shared with me their histories filled with trauma, big and small, that have affected their worldview and sense of self-worth. Our histories make us interesting and unique, but they can also be the source of tremendous pain that leave us feeling helpless. My job enables me to help my clients escape the darkness, similar to the caretaker in this novel, and move forward with their lives. Unfortunately, my clients often cannot move forward until they fully understand the impact of their past and develop healthy coping skills to deal with the painful feelings they share in session. This means therapy may take time and cannot be rushed.
The child in this book is ultimately rescued from her situation and has a happy ending (no details—I do not want to spoil it!). However, the moral of this story is exactly what I enjoy about my work—I get to reach out my hand and comfort my clients as I learn about their history and help them walk toward their happy ending. If you are looking to begin the recovery process, let me walk with you.
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