March 20, 2004
Transference? Perish the Thought.
What I expected from a therapist, based on previous experience, various psych courses and, I suppose, media stereotyping:
A friendly, yet somewhat distant person.
Welcoming in an official capacity sort of way.
Someone who looks at me dispassionately while I spill my guts.
Someone who kindly but firmly sticks to the rules so that when the hour comes to an end it is over no matter what is going on.
Someone who is not supposed to be a real person to me, who does not discuss his life, family, tastes, background, even what he ate for lunch.
He's not even supposed to have a first name.
Transference? After five minutes of a web search I'm not sure I even want to go there!
What I got:
A real person.
Just walking into the office from the corridor is a bit of a time warp.
It's made to feel like a home.
Comfy chairs, curtains, wall to wall (and in between) bookshelves.
Soft classical music in the background.
A microwave, fridge, and coffee pot, too.
But I knew for sure that this was different when, during the first session, a little timer went off after what seemed like an hour.
He ignored it.
A short while later I ventured to ask, was that the end of the hour?
He said, Yeah, it's okay.
He also mentioned, in passing, a wife and children, and spoke of some of his interests involving local history and culture in response to some experiences of mine in the community.
In fact, as it turns out, awhile ago he found the site I put up for my aunt's collection of memoirs by searching for information on a small rural community that our family lived in for awhile.
And remembered it while he spoke to me.
(Note for the to-do list: finish posting the additional entries my cousin sent THREE years ago.)
It was during the second session that things really departed from the norm.
By then he had a pretty good idea of my problems, partly from me and partly from reading my last few weeks of entries.
Imagine. That in itself is amazing, that he took the time and trouble to do that.
Anyway, he had a pretty good idea that I needed a kick in the pants to get me out of the house and wasn't successful at providing that kick on my own.
(This is no big revelation, I knew that anyway, which was why I was there in the first place!)
Considering my interest in writing and my experience in local community matters - I did have a pillar-of-the-community phase awhile back - he invited me to help with some research he is doing for a PhD degree.
It will involve getting out and interviewing people about their reminiscences, and helping him organize the material.
As great as this sounded, it did set off some warning bells, which we discussed later in the week, not in therapy, but in a local Starbucks-type coffee shop.
Therapists don't mix with their patients?
This one does, and he admitted that sometimes there are conflicts and a choice has to be made - patient or friend.
I can live with that.
The world is full of therapists but, I suspect, not too many Howards.
So far, though, I think both are do-able, in my case.
The third session, yesterday, was more traditional, at least at first.
Ways to get me to do things I need and want to do, ranging from cleaning the house to reading and writing more.
Sometimes I feel so lame while I'm there.
I want to do this.
I want to do that.
So, just do it, the voices in my head say.
I don't listen to the voices in my head.
Maybe they remind me of my mother.
But even my mother was right some of the time, despite herself, by accident.
Later, mostly after the timer rang, we ended up discussing things like spirits, the angel of death, the "things happen for a reason" philosophy which we both subscribe to, and I ended up walking out of there with his copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
- What did you do today, dear?
- I went to my therapist and brought home the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Getting back to transference (I couldn't resist!):
This page seems to sum it up pretty well.
It's part of a site on crisis counselling which honestly looks like a very good site by a very good practitioner, and I don't mean to make fun of it (well okay I do) because it IS a serious site concerning very serious issues and is well-written and well-meaning.
Just this one sentence kind of jumped out at me:
Please don't kill yourself or anyone because of some transference from your childhood.
Still posting short entries in the blog.
Er, I hope to do that more than once a week.
Eternally optimistic, me.
Graphics courtesy of