An open letter to my clients:
The therapeutic relationship is weird, isn’t it? Every week we meet consistently. I see you more frequently than I do many of my closest friends, and I embrace the most vulnerable parts of you that keep you safely protected from the world. There is an undeniable closeness to our relationship, yet it is unique in the imbalance of disclosure that we maintain in order to preserve my role as The Stoic and All-Knowing Problem Fixer.
Naturally, curiosity may have you wondering what goes on in my mind. I know I’ve considered this with my own therapist (your grandtherapist, if you will). What is she really thinking? Is she supposed to say that? How much does she really care? I write this letter to you to share that I care about you. A lot, actually. And, while this is my job, I consider myself the luckiest to have your permission to walk alongside you during some of your most difficult times. I write this letter to share a few things I want you to know and clear up some common misconceptions:
1. I am proud of you. I know all you have been through and what you are working to achieve. I know the road isn’t easy, and there are many bumps and roadblocks along the way. It isn’t easy to show up week after week, and I bet you consider cancelling appointments every now and then. But I am glad you show up. You deserve the care you give yourself.
2. I am not The Stoic and All-Knowing Problem Fixer. I know this may come as a shock. I am simply an imperfect human just like you. I’m always learning. I make mistakes. While I often don’t know how to make the road to healing shorter or smoother, I will say I am a pretty good road trip buddy. I’ll remind you to fill your gas tank, stop to enjoy the detours, pack the snacks, and listen to the best playlists. I’ll handle the map, and we can find the best route together. And don’t forget -- the best parts of a road trip often happen before we even arrive at the destination.
3. It’s unfair. I know you didn’t choose to be in the situation that you’re in, and you certainly don’t deserve it. I know you are healing because the people around you aren’t. I recognize there are greater problems in this world that the two of us can’t solve on our own. Your refusal to accept these circumstances gives me hope for future generations. I believe your steps toward healing today will lead to greater collective change for generations to come.
4. You inspire me. I know I am the professional here, and I’m expected to provide the words of wisdom, but every day I am encouraged by you. Your resilience, your determination, and the way you think about the world give me strength and motivation to pursue my own personal growth and be the best therapist I can be. I am incredibly thankful for your vulnerability in sharing your story.
I want to remind you that you are not alone on this journey. When you feel overwhelmed and uncertain, know that I am here to sit alongside you. Together we will ensure that you feel supported and heard. I do not take your trust and commitment for granted. It’s what makes my job so rewarding. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey.
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