I saw a client the other day.
Everything went wrong.
I don't know why, but it did...... I guess we all have those days.
The Client had been referred to me for one particular condition, and it turned out to be something quite different and far more complex than expected. Not only that but when I arrived at the treatment centre, I had the wrong key. No matter what I tried, I couldn't get in the building.
I met The Client outside and I postponed the meeting for an hour while I went off to find the right key. But then I discovered that I couldn't actually find it at all. It is completely lost.
So one hour later The Client arrived for the second time, and I still couldn't do the work. I would have felt more comfortable to delay the session to a later date, but The Client didn't want to. He said he was in a bad way and needed some help immediately.
I reminded myself that this is not about me, not for me, but to help this person who was in obvious distress, so I made an arrangement to see him at a different location across town and eventually, 90 minutes later than scheduled, we began.
Once we began, it became clear that The Client had been sent by his wife, and was attending the session to please her. He approached the session like he would attend a dentist. He reclined on the couch and waited for me to 'fix' him. Of course, that is not the way it works, but because of all the running around, I was not at ease, he was not at ease, and the level of rapport between us was practically none existent.
Needless to say, the session did not go well.
I had explained to the client that in order for him to go into trance, he needs to be willing to do so. He said he was, but his unconscious had other ideas. I could physically see the unconscious take charge of the body and jolt him out of the trance that I was producing. After this had happened several times I gave up on trance work, and used some NLP techniques instead (with mediocre success) and suggested some practices that I thought would help him. I have a sneaking suspicion he will not try them.
At the end of the session, I felt like a failure, and that I had given a poor service. I waived the fee.
Why do I tell you this tale?
Isn't the point of this blog to promote me as a great therapist?
I suppose it is; and yet, I want to be honest in this blog. I don't want to be spinning a tale of 'look how great I am'; pretending to be something I am not. One of the things I like to promote with my clients, is the idea of Authenticity.
So many issues are created for people by the social impositions of right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, acceptable and unacceptable. If a person can live a life being their authentic self, and find within that, their innate caring and empathy for others, that can go a long way to feeling like a natural and free human being.
So in the spirit of Authenticity, I come to you and admit this - We all have those bad days and I am no exception.
The important thing is what do I do with this experience now?
My first reaction was full of negative feelings. Failure, sadness and anger. I wanted to blame. Who can I blame? The client? His wife? Me? My unconscious for sabotaging me? Then I went through the 'Shudders'. I should'a done that, I should'a done this. Angry at myself, 'I could have done so much better' Then I stopped and asked myself, “what would I say to a client in that situation?”
Well firstly I would say, “none of that matters”. The blaming, the could of's and the should of's, and the what if's. AND... In actual fact I could NOT have done better. Not there and then in that situation, in that session. I can place hand on heart and say I did the best I could for that client given the circumstances we found ourselves in. If I could have done more I would have done more.
Next I would say, “there was plenty that was less than good about the experience, but what are the positives?” There are always positives. What did I learn from this?
The positives are that I did not give up on my client. His needs became my priority and stayed my priority. I did the best I was capable of in that moment and given my experience and education in this area, I would like to hope that the client benefited in some ways which may begin to become obvious after a short time has passed. Anyway, I know I did him no harm, and whatever the outcome, I can feel proud of myself for putting his need before a fee.
Perhaps the most important gift was the gentle reminder about what it is like to feel as if the world is sabotaging your every effort, and no matter what you try, nothing seems to work. When the very thing that you do professionally, and in which you place your expertise, lets you down, it feels like your world has collapsed. If you take the view, as I often do, that all things happen for a reason even if you can't see what that reason is, then this is surely the greatest learning point for me. Because next time I see a client in that state, a client who feels a failure, like his world has collapsed, I will have a much deeper and profound sense of where that person is lost. And that will help me enormously in helping them find their way back out of that dark place.