Interact Journal Integrative Ideas for the Process-Oriented Psychotherapist

Categories Supervision Dialogs

On dreading clients

She is low functioning, low fee and wants only to discuss a particular book. Although she is delighted when I invite her to connect with her responses to the book’s passages, I still find myself dreading sessions.

After exploring the matter a while, you agreed that if you were being paid a thousand dollars per hour, you would not dread seeing this client at all! Certainly, a therapist needs to get something for herself out of every session. That something does not have to be green pieces of federalized paper, but it does have to be perceived as valuable by the receiver.

Possibilities include: hours toward licensure, new experiences, material for the book you are writing, things to marvel about or discuss with peers, pleasure in working with someone particularly appreciative or committed to their growth, an opportunity to confront some of your own issues, or an increasing sense of professional competence and self esteem.

If going along with this arrangement is not what you want to do, then refer the woman to someone else. Otherwise, find a way to enthusiastically be with her every session. For example, if you believe that part of your task as a therapist is to relentlessly invite the client to connect with herself in the moment, do not let a protesting client deter you. She can deter herself, if she wants to, but that need not interfere with your intention for yourself which is: to be the best therapist you can be regardless of what the client does.

Attend diligently to your purpose of gathering material to write an article for a professional journal. Your subject could be therapy with low functioning clients. Discuss what worked well as well as what failed miserably.

Find a way to be interested in everything you do rather than looking to your client for entertainment.

Let go of whatever expectations you have of this person. Accept that her way of healing herself looks different than yours. Whatever your client says about you is not about you, even if it is true.

To sum up, find something that intrigues you about working with this person or terminate the treatment. Nobody deserves a therapist who resents or dreads the therapy hour.

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