Therapy at work

I thought I’d start blogging some of the common things that tend to come up in therapy in a conversational style. It might give you an idea of how therapy looks and feels, however, the responses and reactions in both therapist and client are spontaneous and take place within a context that is meaningful for the therapist and client at that particular time, therefore the interchange between client and therapist might change and differ depending on so many different factors. This is just to give you a flavour.

Client: I’ve had a bad week. My partner and son had a fight over something trivial. I am not good at anger.

Susthama: You’re not good at anger? It sounds like you’re angry at yourself…

Client: I’m judging myself again.

Susthama: Hmm, it’s easy to be critical of yourself. I wonder if you can tell me what they were fighting over?

At this point, the client gives more details of the actual argument. They describe where the fight took place, they describe what the father is wearing and what he looks like, and does the same with the son. They recount it as if they are watching it all over again.

Client: The atmosphere was horrible. My partner was blaming our son and our son was giving him the cold shoulder. There was so much tension. I didn’t like it. My plan for that day was ruined because I couldn’t stop thinking about their fight. But I didn’t do anything about it either.

Susthama: Sounds like you were scared.

Client: Scared, angry, and upset.

Susthama: I also got the feeling that you didn’t like having your plans ruined.

Client: I tried to distract myself by doing something I enjoyed but it didn’t work. How do you stop feeling this way?

Susthama: I’ve got this image of you and your family as a pack of animals, and then a fight broke out between two of your pack. I imagine that there would be a rush of adrenaline and fear at the fight. Even if we couldn’t see the other two animals fighting we might be hearing sounds that are loud and angry, and this would put us on alert. As animals we tend to go into alert mode if we are feeling threatened. Perhaps, you were on alert and a part of you was worried about the fight?

Client: I didn’t like it. I’ve felt this way before and it’s always the same.

Susthama: I wonder if we can explore this some more?

The theory is that if we can learn to be with the feelings, rather than go from the feelings of dislike to a judgement, like, ‘I’m not good’ or, ‘I’m a failure’ etc, then we can look at what is happening. For example, we might be feeling angry, and if we can notice why we are angry then we might find out that we care about something. Or if we feel scared, then we can explore whether there is a fear of something happening, and if we imagine it happening then maybe we can see how we might deal with it or figure out what we can do if our fears come true.