If you were my client….

by Rod Smith

It would be my joy

Thank you for including me into your life as your therapist. I trust you will find what you are looking for, and more. If you know how I perceive the therapeutic process, what I think and hope to be able to do, you might be better positioned to understand the development of our shared journey. You might also be better able to determine our suitability as client and therapist. It is naive to think our styles will necessarily click. I hope our therapy is creative, fun, and brings you to the results you want. If at times the process is painful, I will do my best to ensure that you (we) are able to get the best out of the pain.

When therapy begins I ask myself, “What will it take for you to live to your full potential and have enduring intimate relationships?” I ask myself what it will take for me not to interfere with your journey. I think about what it will take for us to connect in the most helpful manner, for the greatest return. I remind myself that every person, if he or she desires it, can discover his or her unique calling and destiny. This destiny, I believe, will be unveiled in the process of living deeply and thoughtfully. I remind myself that we all have the capacity for wellness and the capacity to take responsibility for our lives. I remind myself that most often people come for therapy because they feel a specific need or face a specific problem. This “felt need” can be far removed from the real cause, and the “real cause” might forever elude us, or be irrelevant to the process.

Whatever the immediate problem, whatever is its origins, it is drawing our attention to the larger patterns being created with your life. I remind myself that while such patterns might possibly be clear for me to identify, it is my clarity that could keep me from ever connecting with you or your family. In other words: I will try not to be so sure of myself. I remind myself that the pain you are feeling is what you probably want to talk about. In the telling of your story, you will give your insights about how you see the world, your world, yourself, and your relationships. I will see something of what you believe about life and family and what I call your “tribal code.”

I will try to understand that if you are like most people, you do not want to be well, and you probably do not want to be free. Rather, as I also often want, you want to be pain-free. You probably want balance, and to have a life that feels manageable, which, of course, can easily be confused with wellness. I try to remind myself that, like me, you probably want to have your needs met and have perhaps forgotten that having your needs met is very likely to leave you somewhat miserable or feeling as unfulfilled as you now feel. I will try to help you identify your network of visible and invisible loyalties that surround you. I will try to show you how this crowd of interested on-lookers can switch from being for to against you in a flash.

I will try to hear what you consider “sacred cows” as you give them voice. I will try to see your perceptions of what family, health, relationships, and everything else means to you. I will try to see what you consider certain and what you consider uncertain.

I will see myself as being on your side, no matter what, but this does not mean it will always appear as such to you. You, in cooperation with the power of God, are the resource for your empowering or healing. It does not rest with me. I believe that what you need lies within you. I believe this is true even when it comes to matters of faith and trust in God.

I believe that even God will leave some things totally up to you. Said another way; the ball will seldom leave your court. It is always your play. While being fully aware of where the responsibility lies for your life, I will try to remember how difficult I find it to access my own soul and bring desired changes to my own life.

I will try to remember the many misconceptions that are often brought into the therapist/client relationship as we attempt to connect in the deepest recesses, and often the darkest recesses, of what is important to you. You might believe that I am endowed with some special ability to see into your life, the future, your family, your head or anyplace else that you believe is hidden from you. Then, you might believe that I have the keys to your life and that on some magical day I will hand the keys to you. You might believe that the relationship we develop is exactly the relationship for which you have been searching. In all of these matters and misconceptions you will join the ranks of people all over the world who give misplaced power to therapists, pastors, priests, and rabbis. I will try to always remember that these misconceptions are indeed misconceptions even when I am tempted to believe them myself.

I will try to remember that I am flawed and have regularly needed assistance when my own goals have needed clarification or when I have wandered from what is really important. I will remember that I have needed help to recognize and befriend afresh my vision and dreams and desires. My heart has frequently needed realignment after a seduction; large or small, when the temporal parade as significant.

I will recall that I stand in a context of both success and failure, and that I have benefited greatly from loyal friends, and supporters, detractor and enemies who inhabit my current context and my distant history and my present. I will try to remember that the better I am at living my own life; the better I am able to engage in helpful therapeutic encounters.

I will try to remind myself that every time a person allows me to see his or her life, I am entering holy territory. I know that what we will see together, do together and experience together will somehow connect us both with the beauty of our individual and shared humanity.

Because of what you discover through therapy, I hope your life holds the possibility of being that much more meaningful to you. People in your circle of influence are likely to benefit from your commitment to authentic relationships and we would all have had a greater taste of (authentic) community.

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