It occurs to me recently that during sessions I am quite good at putting my own frame of reference aside and being with the client’s frame. But to some degree, because that frame isn’t ‘what I would feel in your position’ I forget that ‘what I would feel in your position’ is actually a valid point. I forget myself in the room.
This leaves me, in session, trying very hard to ‘be with the client’, but it means I Struggle to recall afterwards. I think it was made much worse by the fact that my last supervisor* was often asking me things about what I thought my clients meant when they said or did X, and that never felt useful to me, because it had been through so many iterations (a client experienced a thing and communicated it – imperfectly – to me. I then experienced that imperfected communication and communicated it imperfectly to my supervisor. Who then experienced the imperfected communication about the experience of the imperfected communication of the original experience (lost yet?!) and on the basis of that, asked me a question about ‘why?’. And I didn’t know. I am not in the client’s head. And sometimes I might clarify about what something means but the imperfections remain. So for several months my supervision was less about encouraging me to stay with my client and more about encouraging me to dissect my client. Fred would never have done that, and I miss him a lot. Maybe next year if I get paid more, I might be able to go back. Let’s hope.
That dissection, that ‘why’ I realise, means that often when a client occurs to me outside of a session, I’m looking at it from a critical frame of reference ‘well why DONT they do that?’ And it wasn’t until very recently when I was with a particular client that I caught myself stepping into that and stopped myself and thought to REALLY see it from their point of view, and considered the words they were saying and how those might map on to my experience, that I realised just why they might be doing a thing. Of course then, if I wish, I am able to gently check that out (go me with my ‘use of self’). Or not – it depends.
*I did realise back in December that that supervisor was bad for me and stopped seeing her, but I have had tribulations finding a new one. I start seeing someone new Thursday- John. I have told him I need to be challenged to be a better therapist. I think he’s ok with that and I hope he can.