The Chair

As a psychologist many times we forget what sitting in that “dreaded” chair feels like. There are some of us who never sat in the chair at all!! In my case, I had to experience this when I was studying for my masters. Though therapy was mandatory, I used the opportunity for my self development and growth and looked at my issues. I really tried to face them. I did my best to be honest about my emotional skeletons.

Recently I had the opportunity of being a client again. YES, YES i sat in the “dreaded” chair!!! It wasn’t fun!!! I know exactly how it feels sitting in front a therapist because here I was sitting in front of a stranger telling them the intimate details of my life. Then all of a sudden I was scared and uncomfortable…I wanted to look good for the therapist… I felt afraid to tell the person my business… I wanted to get far away from the room… I wanted to tell them my issues because I was seeking help… I was talking a lot and all over… I felt confused and talking confused… hard questions were being asked… I had to be truthful… the questions made me think… I don’t want to think… I knew the answers but I needed to hear them from someone else… I wanted coping skills but yet I thought I was coping well… but I wasn’t. Then I was crying and felt sad then I felt happy and somewhere in there angry. Sounds familiar?

At the end of it though I felt comfortable and settled and I was able to open up and be honest because I wanted the assistance for my self development. The session went wonderfully well and I felt good at the end of it. I had some home work and things to think long and hard about, but it was good.

Sitting in that chair reminded me of my clients and how hard it can be sometimes to start trusting and talking to a stranger about intimate details of their lives. Trusting that I will be able to help them cope and figure what to do, what is the next step, what they have to work on, their fears, weaknesses and more. Looking at ourselves sometimes is the hardest thing to do because we have to admit and face that we have fears and weaknesses. We are our own harshest critic. When you realise your weaknesses, you can work on them. Somehow people are afraid of this process because they are comfortable with how they are handling their weaknesses even though it might be very unhealthy. Humans we are creatures of habit even though change is inevitable.

In the daily life of being a mental health professional it is necessary to sit in that “dreaded” chair if you really want to be emotionally stable and mentally healthy to deal with clients. Personally, I think it is really important for us mental health professionals to be in a mentally healthy place before assisting our clients. If we are a mess how can we EVER help clients?

The journey to self discovery is ongoing and never over. Sometimes a case might hit on issues we have bottled up within ourselves. Therefore it is always good to go back to that “dreaded” chair and be the client. Not only to remind us of how a client feels, but to also remind us that we too need to talk and sort out our issues no matter how small.

Don’t think this is just limited to mental health professionals. If the shoe fits you wear it! Are you giving advice to others clients, team members etc. and then not taking that advice? Worse yet are u getting frustrated with others and forgetting what it is like to be in that “dreaded” chair?

Self development and discovery…this is my journey now and I am very happy to be doing it so that when I sit in front of my clients they are getting the best of me and what I have to offer in the mental health profession….So I encourage my colleagues to take a seat in the chair and be reminded of what the clients feel in our sessions….and for the clients out there some of us understand how scary going into therapy can be but we also understand how tremendously beneficial it can be…

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