Pre-session notes

Self care can take frustratingly long, especially when all you want to do is sit at a computer and write. There’s the washing of dishes, the self feeding, showering, changing out and then into different clothes. And then I had to go to Twitter and get lost on the feed channels for half an hour. But finally, I am here. Welcome back, my lady. “I missed you,” says my blog to me.

I just started a Twitter account @depressionmuse. The two days so far have been good and I already have followers. You can’t really call them “friends” like on Facebook. Those two companies are the epitome of social media. I’ll have to go at my own pace and not overwork myself by needing to post every day. It can be time consuming!

In my Introduction to Counseling psychology class we did another practise session in groups of three with the following role plays: helper (therapist), client and observer. Tonight was my second time practising being a helper. There were pauses when I did not know what to ask, and silence can also be an effective tool when not used too often or for too long. Although, there was a lot of silence in my last therapy session. It depends on the individual client.

Psychotherapy is tailored to each individual. It requires constant awareness of the helper to her own feelings, the client’s reactions, where the conversation is leading, when it’s not helpful. After the 20-minute session I got feedback from my “client” and she said I did a good job, and asked helpful questions, although my awareness of what sorts of open questions to ask just wasn’t there. I was going by the seat of my pants (what an odd expression). She also told me that male clients could be intimidated of me because of my beauty. I was shocked at the last comment as I had not considered that possibility and don’t think it’s true. Coming from another woman, I was apt to believe her sincerity in the feedback.

The client’s problems are fictional, even if based on a real story, and because there are no identifiers, there is no confidentiality issue here. The presenting problem was that the client did not like being the mother of young children and feels that she doesn’t get enough time for herself. Her agreement with her husband for having children was that he would take primary responsibility of the parental duties, but in her opinion is failing to do so. She doesn’t feel a close connection to her children, yet when they ask for their dad first, she feels sad.

She had a difficult time focusing on her emotions. I don’t think I was asking the right questions to get her to that point of exploration. I asked her about her relationships with various family members including husband, children, parents, in-laws. As a child she said she was forced to be independent and often left alone, which was probably an open door to explore this more, but I did not delve into it.

What interventions did I use? Silence was one method. I must be careful to not make this into an interview. It must be a conversation which flows. I asked the client how her dissatisfaction with her life affects her. She has never talked with anyone about these issues before. She cannot handle being alone with the children any longer with the husband away on trips throughout the year. I emphasized with her that this must be difficult and used an encourager on congratulating her on managing so far. Her job is stressful and demanding but she likes getting away from the house every day. I summed up a few of her statements but did not do a good job on reflecting back her story. She didn’t seem to have any dysfunctional beliefs about herself although I did ask if she thinks that she hold high expectations and whether those expectations are too high.

All in all it wasn’t a bad day for a practise session. I’m glad I got to do it and look forward to more. I am learning a lot in this class and I think the most valuable part of it is getting to connect with other students and the teacher. Those personal connections are what make the class enjoyable. I would not cope well with online schooling. I even found someone who would be willing to study for the GRE with me. That’s another mountain I’ll tackle a different month.

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