In the course of our lives, many of us will visit a therapist for an outside perspective or help with a problem we are facing. What's going on in that therapist's head at the end of the day?
As a mental health counselor, I'm choosing to shed some light on what's going on in my head at the end of a day of counseling. I don't speak for all therapists, but I speak from my own experiences. This letter was initially written for my personal processing at the end of a full day, and I'm sharing it with you now to provide some insight into the inner workings of the therapist who may be sitting across from you.
To my clients:
I walk in the door to my office at the beginning of the day and I take a deep breath, inhaling the scent of leather, wood and paper. I exhale, curious for the day ahead. You never cease to amaze me with your stories, your coping, and even your off-beat comments. I can't wait to hear what you have to say today.
When the end of the day arrives, I start to walk out the door to my office and I turn. I'm mentally concluding the day as I reach to close and lock the door. Pausing, I glance at the chair where you sat. Not long ago you sat in that chair, sharing with me your stories, your emotions and your vulnerabilities, an incredible level of trust. As I lean on the door jam, I am humbled. I consider your ability to let me in emotionally.
It's not an easy thing to allow someone else into your dark places. You told me about the parts of yourself that you do not like, that scare you, that have been hurt by people before.
I open the door wide again and step back inside the office. I'm not ready to leave this day behind yet. It was an intense day; it was a good day. I sit down in your chair, looking at the pictures you see, my diplomas on the wall. I look out the window at the purple hues of a day at its closing. My day was spent leaning towards you. Now, I lean back and sink into your chair, glancing across at my own chair just a few feet away.
Every session, I want to be the best possible therapist I can be for you. I meet your trust with my respect and try to provide tools for you to help yourself. You already have the strength. I just give you the perspective.
I hold my keys in my hand, reaching down for my purse and the promise of dinner when I get home. I stand again. Now it's my turn to walk out the door. I feel honored and blessed that I was invited to sit with you and witness your life experiences, to walk through some shadowy places and help you get to a better place today. I close the door, grateful for the day's work.
Each day, I trust the process of counseling. Thank you for trusting me.
With all my best,
*NOTE: This letter is not written based on any one individual or directed to any person in particular, but rather to the people who may find themselves sitting in the client's chair. This letter is not intended to be used as therapy; please contact your doctor or therapist for mental health needs.