It was our 9th or 10th session. They all blurred together. It almost felt like de ja vu. We weren’t getting anywhere. The client was not experiencing any movement and was getting frustrated. I was getting frustrated. The client started to express hopelessness, I started to feel hopeless. I began to dread seeing them on my schedule. I knew I was in a danger zone. I just couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t figure out where or how the client was stuck, so I could help them get out.
Then in dawned on me. I began to realize I was in the Answer dance. My answer to help, rescue, figure it all out and problem solve, had begun a waltz with the client’s answer of being difficult, unsolvable, hidden, hopelessly damaged. The harder I tried to figure out the solution, the more complicated and unsolvable they became. SIGH…….. well I figured something out. Now what to do with it.
I decided it was time to give myself some permissions with this client. I gave myself permission to not be the therapist that finally helped them feel better.
I gave myself permission to possibly suffer the judgement from others when the client told the next therapist they had gone to see Alice Stricklin and she couldn’t help them, and left feeling utterly hopeless. I began to gently offer breath to myself. I identified where I had been carrying the weight of the responsibility for this client in my body. And I did a small mindfulness ritual to unhook it from my system.
Then I went into the next session prepared to be fully present and welcoming to whatever was there. And just like every session before, the client came in with all their weekly problems to rehash, unsolvable struggles, and hopelessness that it would ever be different. And I began to welcome those answers with open arms, validating the role they played for the client and offering the client permission to not have to work so hard to change. We began the very present work of offering compassion for what is. Honoring the story of the now, and the chapters that lead up to it. And ever so gently, we began to be curious together about all the ways being unsolvable, unique, hidden, helped them stay safe when they were younger. That day we entered a new dance. One that held more choice, options, and creativity.
Something from this story may resonate with you. Maybe it’s feeling stuck with a client and not seeing any way out. Maybe it’s feeling all the things your client is feeling. Maybe it’s seeing yourself in the taking responsibility for your client part. Wherever you find yourself, the invitation is here to identify how your Answers have joined with the client’s Answers and begun to dance. Looping one way and then the next.
The invitation is here to identify your Answers, the role they are playing in the dance, and begin to offer yourself some permissions. The invitation is here, to see where you have hooks stuck in your body that may be related to this client. The invitation is here to begin the gentle work of offering yourself compassion, and a way to unhook from the dance.