How My Psychotherapy Patients Change Me

When I meet with a new patient, this is someone who is new to me. The first meeting is just an introduction, to get a sense of what brings this person here at this particular time, why he or she chose to come see me, what the problem is, how long has it been going on, etc. It is really a bare-bones introduction to someone whom I might get to know more fully. A little bit at a time, over time.

Who will this person turn out to be? What I don’t think about at this time is something I have discovered over and over again—that the process of getting to know this new person changes me in some way, making me different than I was before. Who will I turn out to be? This is something that I don’t think most people who are in therapy really know—that they are not the only one who becomes changed by this life-altering process of psychotherapy.

.Psychotherapy is a relationship like no other we may have in our life. It is an authentic encounter between two people,  a parallel process  and reciprocal influence in the process, in which both patient and therapist become changed.

I may confront a patient about some action he has taken and come to realize that I was talking as much to myself as to the patient. A patient may bring up an issue that concerns hiim and I recognize that this same issue is one I have not fully resolved.

A particular session may replay itself in my mind over and over again,and I cannot let go of it until I face  the underlying  issue. We may talk with the patient about finding new meaning in life and discover that we re finding some new meaning in our own life.. I may confromt a patient about some action he has taken and come to realize that I am talking as much to myself as to the patient.

Carl Jung put it very well when he said “The meeting of two personalities is like the conact of twp chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed” (Jung 1955, p. 49; Farber  2017, p. 25).

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