I haven’t written about Ms. A in a while and for due reason. Counsellors have lives outside of their practice, sometimes we need to seek our own counsel.
4 months after counselling Ms. A, we were still talking about how to approach her three priorities. Like her home, there was a lot of organization of how to organize but no organization followed. For example, Ms. A took inventories of her pantry, but when coming across expired items or items that needed to be discarded, she did not discard them, rather wrote them in her inventory as “to be discarded.” Likewise, she made lists of what she wanted to do.. She mentioned that her self-proclaimed “lack of progress” had also been a result of her inability to move, due to physical ailments and chronic pains. I wasn’t about to cosign on that. I suggested using some our session time to move boxes and organize her home to get more out of our time together and make use of my able body. It was a tough decision, it crossed a few comfort zones and potential boundaries, but she seemed excited about the idea and with our next session the ‘decluttering’ began..
Boy, was I in for (yet another) suprise. What I had in mind when I suggested talking and moving. There was talking, but most of it was “Can you move that here? .. No, put that over there. What’s in that box? …” and so on. Halfway into the session I felt more like a cleaner/mover/shaker than a counsellor and I began to think that maybe my plan had backfired, so after a few more boxes, I suggested we sit and talk.
As I anticipated, it made more productive use of our time together, but it also created a more comfortable atmosphere to talk about some uncomfortable things. Intimacy issues, trust issues, some of our deepest conversations came after we had spent the first half of our session going through boxes, trying to consolidate. The process of consolidating for her was also interesting to see; what she kept, what she put back, what she didn’t want to ‘deal with’ at all. It revealed a lot about her without her having to say a word.
Just like how our priorities say a lot about us, as does the company we keep… and yes, our reactions. None of which require words necessarily, all of which provide insight into our character.
It was a tricky situation, but we got through it, remembering this is as much of a journey for her as it is for me. Every client is different. Every counsellor is different. Every journey is different. As the saying goes, “if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing.” Little did I know how much ‘growing’ was waiting for me in the weeks to come.
Little did I know that the ‘growing pains’ that ensued would entail a very frustrating session followed by a very angry phonecall and the discontinuation of my services.
To be continued…