Thursday, June 29, 2006

Do therapy docs really listen?

In Try Sitting in My Chair the book I've never tried publishing but will one day, okay?-I tell a few anecdotes to make you never want to become a psychotherapist. Anyway.

It's true that we shrinks sometimes feel a little crazy at the end of the day, having listened to so many problems. I'm the type who cranks up the radio really loud after work-- and it doesn't matter what's on, not initially.

Anyway, I say that because so many people have asked me how it is I still do this job, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. I'm not so young anymore.

One day, many years ago, I met an elderly psychiatrist in the hallway of the building where I worked. Dr. K and I were locking up, leaving at the same time. He must have been in his eighties, tall, skinny guy with thin white hair. I asked him the same question.

Dr. K.? How do you do it? Day after day, week after week, month after month, how do you sit and listen to so many problems?


He turned to me, smiled and quipped with no hesitation whatsoever,

WHO LISTENS?


Okay. Maybe so.

It can be a cool job, honest, Me and ol' Dr. K. sitting in comfy chairs, interesting people on the opposite sofa, getting to know them from the inside out; everyone of the people we see unique and mystifying, deep as the ocean; them barely knowing if we like chicken or fish.

Yeah, Dr. K is telling the truth, the partial truth. We don't hear every word, (and he was probably hard of hearing, altogether). But we try.

We go for the broad strokes, the template. Cracking the code's not so hard after awhile; teaching you guys still can be.

But I think we're getting somewhere.

Copyright 2006, TherapyDoc

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

so far I am enjoying this.... I did cry with the Kelly Clarkson part and sent it to my niece and told her that my sister should read it. This is nice know that you are reading every word we write down to you. Once ok maybe more than once I did notice in the office that you were'nt paying attention. It is ok, almost everytime I feel good leaving your office.

Therapy Doc said...

Dear Anonymous,
I really try to listen to every word. But I'm human! So if I look like I'm spacing out, please call me on it, okay? I'm kind of lucky in that I have a recall memory for words, and could probably parrot them back to you, but you're right, hearing and attending to what is said are two very different things. And I never like asking anyone to speak up (even if they're only like, breathing the words because they're so painful). I know it's hard to talk, so I don't interrupt. Eventually, if I wait it out I can ask questions for clarification if I didn't get it. Thanks for writing!