This is What I Do it For

After three years of private practice, I'm beginning to anticipate its natural rhythms.

There are some months that I have a steady schedule, and the phone rings with some regularity with requests for information and appointments. These months tend to follow the school calendar and extend into early summer. And then there are weeks that the phone stops ringing, current clients miss appointments and don't return my phone calls, and the calendar starts to have big holes in it. These weeks coincide with major religious and national holidays, and the last weeks before Labor Day.

I now understand why therapists have traditionally taken the whole month of August off. Remember Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss in the 1991 comedy, "What About Bob?" (The busy New York City doctor rents a home in New Hampshire for the whole month of August only to be followed there by his newest, most eager patient, Bob.)

So while I have some unwelcome time on my hands, I have been reading. And I have been seeing some of my long term clients. And this is what I have seen: healing. While I can't give you details, I hope it is enough to tell you that just today, I saw a client who had a difficult mental disorder that was controlling her life a year and a half ago. She told me today that she is really feeling "her normal self," the self she remembers before the disorder took over. I smiled through her session.

The same thing happened last week, as a couple client told me that they had "completely changed" the way they moved in their relationship. Wow. We talked about what they were doing differently, and what they had learned. I remembered what it was like for them when we began. And I smiled, and congratulated them on their hard work.

That kind of healing of emotions, mind, spirit and behavior is what I have experienced in therapy as a client, and what I strive for with each new client who comes to me for help. It doesn't always work, for a wide number of reasons. But when it does, I have to tell you: it's joyful for me. This is what I do it for.


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