Sometimes I can miss things my patient is trying to tell me. I know I can’t be perfect but I do get upset with myself when I felt I may have missed something important in my patient’s session. I generally will feel uneasy after the session ends which is a signal to me that something didn’t feel quite right. I have to watch my own anxiety that wants to make it better quickly. Therapists are not perfect either. We do our bests but contrary to what our patients may think we are not immortal and we make mistakes.
I’m all Ears
I have been trained to listen with a “third” ear. It is my job to connect what my patient is telling me during those precious 50 minutes. Sometimes because I am tired or maybe not wanting to see something in one of my patients I may miss it. I don’t stop thinking about my patient until she comes back for her next weekly session. Sometimes something will gnaw at me. I will do some writing about it to see if something comes. Sometimes I might have a dream. Or something I read triggers me to think about the session again. If I am really struck by something I might bring it to supervision. Supervision is what we therapist use to discuss cases that bring us difficulty. I don’t usually use supervision for cases I am doing well with. It helps to have an objective ear listening with me as well. Part of residency training is weekly supervision. I have found it helpful throughout my career.
The Clue Phone is Ringing
If my patient becomes emotional during a session or their body has a sensation they bring up it can help guide us. But sometimes they have neither experience. I work hard to bring a session’s ideas together but even sometimes I cannot. Luckily if it is left unresolved my patient will bring it up again. Sometimes it takes more than one or two sessions for me to make the connection to what is going on. Maybe a similar dream gets brought up at the next few sessions or more symptoms of anxiety are developing around a certain issue in my patient’s life. Whatever it may be it is my job to listen and be aware something is not yet conscious or resolved. Sometimes patients will avoid going deeper so they might keep the conversations light. I also have to use that as a signal something is being avoided.
Weekly is the right dose
Whatever is going on between my patient and myself will hopefully get resolved. This is why anything other than weekly psychotherapy doesn’t work when the inner emotional work needs to get done. I continue to pay attention when a session doesn’t feel right to me. I also have to consider it is my own feeling and that it needs addressing, but usually it is what has gone on (or not) in the session that signals me to listen up.