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Ponderings of a Therapist’s Mind

I have decided to begin these weekly reflections as a sort of journal. The purpose is to share insights and occasional aha moments, questions that are often never quite black or white, experiences as a client over the years, and therapeutic observations from a therapist who is herself on a healing journey.

Todays topic relates to my memory of the first therapist I ever saw for ongoing one to one therapy. Her name was Mary Anne, and I met her at a treatment centre when I was about 6 or 8 months clean, back in 1986.Back then, we didn’t have many of the interventions we have today.

Mary was running a one week program for children of alcoholics, and I had returned to the treatment centre for a followup session, but my therapist suggested I join the one week program, as there was an extra seat, and she knew it was relevant to me; I took her advice and attended the ACOA group.

After I returned home, I contacted Mary about individual therapy. Previous to meeting her I had three interactions with therapists that were unhelpful, but had also completed the one month program at the treatment centre, where I was able to establish good relationships with the staff and counsellors.

My first contact with counsellors was admittance to a group for sexual abuse survivors: I was accepted for the group with one interview, but I had no previous counseling, and the first group meeting there was a huge blowup between some clients, after which I never went back. The therapist called me to followup, and after some discussion, apologized to me about the fact that I had not been properly screened – I had no therapy prior to attending the group, which she felt was a factor – I did my best to assuage her current mood, and ended the call as quickly as possible, without appearing rude.

I also saw one man for one session who listened to me, then told me that I was fine…..after 18 years of drinking and drug use, and just a few months clean, plus a lengthy history of trauma, I was fine. That was a shock. I never went back.
One other lady I went to barely listened at all, and mostly just told me what I should be doing. I only saw her once.

Meeting Mary was a real switch. She had that warm, interested gaze. She listened intently, and offered kind reflective comments or questions that validated me, and at times helped me to look deeper. She was always happy to see me, and to go where ever I needed to go in the session. She helped me to begin a life long journey,through her authentic caring, thoughtfulness, patience, and openness/open-mindedness.

Thanks be to Mary!

I look forward to hearing from you.
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Dr Barbara Harris, PhD, MSW, RSW

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Dr. Barbara now offers Skype sessions for EMDR Intensives, Consultations and Trauma Counselling.

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