I have had some really deep, profound moments with my clients lately. It is leaving me really, well the title says it. The responsibility that comes with the exposure then have given me, is awe-inspiring. There is reading about therapeutic alliance, and then there is experiencing it.
One client is "a real bad as"s - that's a quote from the psychiatrist that has been working with this person for sixteen years, and it's accurate. Really tough character, very no bullshit (a word that is heard frequently in our sessions), softer emotions do not really appear. Survival is the key word here. Today, I sensed a deeper sadness more at the surface today. Taking a risk I noted it, dropped it, picked it back up a few times, mirrored the client's language. My client really exposed some emotional content. At the end of the session, the client asked if they could hug me. This feels huge for this person, like enormous - a literally and metaphorical reaching out. Blown away.
Another client is a teen but functions several years younger than chronological age - really sweet in a number of ways. The client was asking me some personal questions, which while I answered honestly, I also answered a bit incompletely, to keep boundaries. One question was whether I was married, "no, but I was". This led me to ask the client if they thought they ever wanted to get married - "yes". In asking about what kind of person they would marry - someone who talked a lot, or worked a lot, etc. The response, I want someone to love me, for me. The sweetness, the awareness, of the answer just made my heart burst.
These moments are not ones I expected to have, at least not yet; these moments are the ones I had stored in my hope chest for the day I was a "real therapist". It is amazing to have them now, to already have a client tell me how they were angry at me for "bringing that stuff up" - which of course is my job. To experience counter-transference and be aware of it, trying face this stuff head on, it almost makes me feel like I might be ready for this work. Well as ready as anyone can be, this is work where some element of it is like starting anew every time you have that initial appointment. I find that as exciting as I find it terrifying - the challenge is so ripe, the hope so big, the possibilities so endless.
I want to remember this feeling of awe, of having my heart touched as I continue this work because I know there will be days, weeks, where the work won't go there, when it will feel more rote, even a bit hopeless. It is wise, I think, to remember that those glistening moments of connection are worth so much more than the days of bleakness.