How Do Therapists Love?

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How Do Therapists Love?

I’ve gotten comfortable with the notion that I love many clients and tell them so.

I want to share about an exchange I had with my client, Jo, who was struggling to resolve a long-term relationship that wasn’t working out, and perhaps never worked out; coming to terms with having to break-up, fend for herself and envisioning her future without her husband of 15 years. After having once again (it’s been awhile since the last time she did) stumbled on irrefutable evidence of her husband’s infidelity and lies, which he admitted to when she confronted him, he finally “copped to his bullshit.” It wasn’t shock as much for her as the inescapable reality that its over and there is no turning back, and nothing but of abject loneliness and emptiness staring her in the face.

No longer will she be able to hang on to the illusion of being with, and spending their last days together, to fill those gaping holes of love she never experienced. I saw her eyes well up as she was consumed by moments of clarity and humility, recognizing that she spent her entire life maintaining appearances and covering up the truth, trying to be something she wasn’t. She recalled a time when her mother had her comb out the fibers in their carpet, brush out the stepped on spots, every time guests were to arrive.

In the depths of despair, so reduced she saw herself as to have me and only me to rely on. “There’s no one I can get away with, no one to spend the holidays with. I’m all by myself. And you are the only one I have to be with, and I have to pay you to be with me. What am I going to do?”

As my heart filled with love, it occurred to me to forewarn her that I was about to respond to what she said by thinking out loud. I told her to get all of her accessories and accoutrements she’ll need to take with her as she is about to embark on a long period of solitude, self-work and creative expression. And then I went on. “Yeah. You have to pay for it, but what are you getting? You might expect love should be free. But what if it’s never happened?

You are getting loved. I am loving you and our connection is real and deep. What does it matter that you’re paying for it? Look at what you are getting. Not only am I loving you, I am going to hand deliver you back to your Self, your new best friend forever. Your relationship is with your Self is the most important on, more important than me and you. At some point, you will have grown and become ready to be on your own and soar; and will see yourself in the most meaningful and intimate relationship of your life. And I will always be behind you long after you’ve left the nest of our relationship.

What I am doing with you? How I am loving you? Where we are heading? My job is to pique your self-awareness so that you begin seeing and feeling yourself to be as I see and feel you to be, through my eyes. Sounds worth it to me.”

For a moment I thought she might have been squinting when she was more likely winking, cracked a half smile and said one word. “Okay.”