“A counseling moment at the end of the session? It’s unacceptable to say ‘We’ll talk about it next time.’ Screw up your schedule and do it.” Audrey Holland, Counseling Around the Edges

crowded-elevator

Forty-some years ago, I was getting into a long-waited-for elevator, having just finished an evaluation at the bedside of someone with an acute stroke. The crowd advanced in that politely menacing way we do when we need to get on but don’t want to trample someone. And as I turned to face front, having squeezed my crisp white coat in before the doors closed, a hand from the outside reached in and a man said to me, “I need to talk to you about my wife. You just saw her.” I told him that I really needed to get back to my office for an appointment, but that I would come back soon. He stood implacable, his hand on the rubber door protector, and said nothing. I walked off the elevator.

He was right, of course, and so was Audrey. The pressures we feel whether from the workplace or our internal states don’t matter when it comes to the connection we need to make with the people we serve.

This family, as it turned out, became pivotal in my own development as a therapist. She was a brilliant, sad, and funny woman, whose journey taught me a lot about the see-saw that is resilience and depression. Some years later, after our therapy had ended, she helped me through a difficult time of my own. It was the first time I permitted anything like that, so filled was I with the professional caveats about personal relationships.

Screwing up your schedule is a good thing.

I’m still doing it

hand reaching

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About Shirley Morganstein

I am a life participation therapist for people with aphasia, exploring the relational and reflective process.
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