November upon us…it’s getting darker and colder.
Not only is the season a difficult one, but it’s a difficult life season for our team too. It’s piling up, where members of the Bergen and Associates Counselling team are being hit by deaths of friends, aging and dying parents, health challenges, terminal illness of family members, and relationship distress.
It goes without saying that therapists are not immune from the challenges of life.
While that seems sorta obvious, you won’t know it when you come into our office.
Regardless of what’s going on in our personal lives, we make a commitment to bring our “A” game to every session. Part of our training is to learn how to emotionally and mentally put the stressors and pains of our lives “on the back burner” when we have a session with a client.
The client is the center and the focus of the conversation in therapy…and each of us works deliberately on ensuring “our stuff” doesn’t enter the room and interfere with the work. That is an essential and significant part of our ongoing professional development. It requires a special sort of learning to ensure that the inevitable ups and downs, and bumps in the road in a therapist’s life do not negatively impact on the work.
So…we do things…little things and big things…to ensure that we have sufficient energy and empathy in our emotional tanks to ensure that we are at the top of our game when we start each session.
- therapists regularly consult with experienced clinical supervisors to discuss cases (without identifying clients by name) to discuss case conceptualization, and to process any unconscious triggering that may be occurring.
- the “raisin fairy” recently put a beautiful box of raisins in each therapist’s mailbox…not long after a “kinder surprise fairy” dropped in the chocolate treat
- getting our own therapy was an expectation at various points of our education, with the understanding that our limitations could interfere with how far we could take a client in their work
- while we put our own pain “on the back burner” during session, we make sure it has “front burner” time at other points in our lives during the week. We all have deliberate self-care strategies that uniquely work for us, and that we incorporate in our lives to better prepare ourselves for our work with clients
- we are kind and gentle with each other…when errors are made administratively, we assume good will on the other, and clear things up so we all feel good about it…so as not to shame someone who makes an error.
- Generally, I think our office is a happy, cheerful, even fun place to be when we’re not doing the hard work of therapy…while it certainly makes it a pleasant work environment, I also see it as a place that creates good energy as vital, given our work.
It’s ethically necessary for our clinic to be a place where authenticity, vulnerability, creativity, and respect are core values…we have an obligation to “walk the talk”, to model what we help clients towards, and to work towards living with each other with the values we are facilitating our clients to embrace and grow in.
So…to that end, we’ve added another team member to the office. Those of you who come in will get to know her. We were feeling like, in this season of struggle and loss amongst our team, it would be helpful to have a symbol of growth, life…of hope. Something that we could see growing and living and exploding with vibrant colour.
Hence, Espérance (or “Espy” for short)…
Can you see how she grew even in one week…2.3 centimetres to be precise. She’s green and growing…almost daily we can see the difference.
Her name is Espy, which is derived from a french word for expectant hope. It’s not easy for all of us on the team these days…and it’s not like Espy is going to fix anything…but she is a symbol of life when we could all benefit from seeing that. It’s a symbol that we “get it” that times are rough for some of us…and we will encourage and support each other…so that we can continue to support and work effectively with our clients.
While it’s not easy to go through hard times, it’s part of what makes us human. It’s not a reason to avoid working with any one of our team…therapists who know the pain of loss, of struggle, of relationship turmoil…you can know we enter the therapy room with humility and an understanding of what it means to struggle.
It doesn’t detract from our work…but rather adds to the richness of the encounter as one flawed human being in a broken world deeply engages with another flawed human being, also living in this broken world.
There may be days when a therapist is feeling bent, though not broken…we will do our best to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with your work as a client, and we will promise you that it will only add to our compassion and depth of understanding as we hear your pain.