During each “50-minute clinical hour” I sit in my tan leather therapist chair the five classic feet across the Oriental rug from the embodied brown client couch.
After 29 years of doing this work, I view myself as a seasoned, ethical, and skilled psychotherapist – who remains regularly humbled.
I have had the honor of witnessing hundreds of adults as they have traveled a portion of their life journey in my presence.
I have heard thousands of stories that have revealed thousands of miles of self-doubt, suffering, strength and survival.
I have sat with hundreds of people for thousands of hours as they have courageously risked more fully understanding themselves and resolutely dedicating themselves to a path directed at being even more of the person whom they want to be.
The therapy process itself, whether lasting hours or years, is for my clients a sort of story inside a life story, a learning inside a learning.
And though often gone unsaid, as their clinician, this is equally true for me.
- There have been therapy sessions with tender moments of shared tears over a client’s personal success or newly remembered trauma.
- There have been my pauses of admiration after a client has bravely read aloud of their most shameful regret and deepest loss.
- There have been connecting times when a client and I have interacted in ways that were enduringly validating for them, as well as quietly therapeutic for me.
- There have been inspiring transformations witnessed as a client slowly connected life-changing dots right before my eyes.
- There have been salient dialogues when a client has wisely challenged my feedback for clearly missing their point and the client and I have both learned from my mistake.
- There have been poignant silences when I am steadfastly holding seemingly the only lifeline of hope for a client who feels stuck in deep despair and depression.
- There has been that promising stillness after my gentle coaching of a resistant client who then, finally, reached her hand across the couch to her crying spouse and whispered, “I am sorry.”
- There have been shared belly laughs that I am sure echoed down to the street.
- There have been mutually rewarding sessions when a client carefully reviewed their therapy goals set months prior, proudly recognized personal growth on all counts, and finally claimed their awesomeness.
I hold deep respect for the privilege to share in another’s journey, and yet, am quite aware that my own journey is being shared as well.
Irene Greene, MSE has been a psychotherapist, speaker and writer for 29 years. She is currently writing two books and works and lives in Minneapolis with her family, garden, two cats, and two fish.