Thursday, January 21, 2010

Notes From My “Ideal Reader” (Or, at Least One of Them)

A therapist friend said my book should be required reading for clinicians in training. I’ve yet to grapple with how to get the book to budding clinicians so I was thrilled when, via Twitter, I made connection with Sharon Sanquist who is studying for a Masters in Social Work—and has read the book.

What spoke to her was that I conveyed the process of therapy from the perspective of either sides of the couch. Indeed, every therapy session is really two distinct but interconnected narratives—that of the clinician as well as the client. Sharon says that, like me, during a session she often takes an imaginative leap to try to consider what the client is experiencing, and was glad to see how this proved productive in treatment.

She also related to literary descriptions of experiences usually only described in clinical terms. One example was how my then therapist and I worked in Self Psychology mode, building a core from the ground up, attempting a psychological revision of my life story. These sections articulated “how empathy can be meaningful in building up a person’s sense of self,” she said, which is important as many seeking therapy have “lost their sense of self”.

Finally, she reflected on the complexities of medication and how clinicians can drop the ball on it: “Some say that medication is stuffed down people’s throats. But sometimes those who truly need it are the ones who aren’t getting it—often those who have developed effective coping mechanisms but are really struggling. Such people may see taking medication as a weakness and need to have it suggested by someone else.” In many cases, she says, considering medication earlier in treatment can spare someone months or years of suffering. (Don’t I know it!)

Sharon also started in a different profession: banking. While one wouldn’t think of banking as preparation for clinical work, she said she often found herself doing a lot of handholding and helping to reduce the anxiety inherent in the getting-a-mortgage process. I guess many roads lead to therapy!Sharon is a dynamo in keeping up with trends and ideas in psychology and social work. Her Twitter link is:

1 comment:

  1. Judy, I so enjoyed your book and connecting to you via Twitter. Your book had me thinking from many different perspectives and I imagine, many students can surely benefit from getting a glimpse of "both sides of the couch" by reading it.
    I am flattered to be interviewed and wish you much success.