Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Client to Remember

Beware of counter-transference, I said to myself before young "Will" arrived. Be aware of boundaries. We'd spoken over the phone and he told me a little about himself. A little? I allowed him to talk for about an hour while I sat recording notes and trying to make sense of his very young and very lost life.

When he arrived, he told me his best friend lived up the street and they used to cut thru my backyard to get to "the Screw," an affectionate term for the Keystone Screw factory behind my house. Not only that but he went to the same nursery school my son went to - Happy Tymes - oh, I said, Miss Bev and Miss Donna. (My son couldn't tell them apart. He called Bev "the one with the big pink lips.")

The day was scorching. I met Will out on the steps. I wanted to watch him walk in from the car. He wore a Pink Floyd shirt. "You're a good-looking guy," I said shaking his hand. My intuition was now set on 'high.' As I've said before it took me years before I felt comfortable as a therapist and finally at the age of 63 I feel I pretty much know what I'm doing. Except when I don't.

Hey, I said, I was just making myself a glass of mint iced tea. You want some?

Sure, he said, and we went into the kitchen. I got our drinks.

We made several trips down the stairs to the screened in back porch, carrying our drinks and a yellow pitcher of ice water. I brought my clock downstairs and put it on the table so we could both see it.

The time sped by. He never stopped talking.

"We have to stop in 5 minutes," I said.

"Good," he said. "I'm starving."

He complained that he hadn't any money. I myself was famished and am on an eating plan so that I must eat every three hours.

Listen, I said. I'm gonna make myself some lunch. If you want, I'll make you some eggs.

He followed me upstairs and I made the most scrumptious fresh eggs imaginable, putting in lots of fresh basil. I toasted 2 slices of whole-grain bread and we carried them back to the back porch along with one of those small personal watermelons from Little Bear Produce and feasted while the sun blazed in the sky.

A huge cicada alit on the outer screen and we watched its huge body in amazement. Birds of all sorts flew hither and yon in the thick woods beyond my house, undaunted by the heat or the coming threat of winter.

My client told a story. One of those little offhand observations thrown out by the unconscious that told me what he actually thought of the session. A person can say one thing - like - this is the best session I've had in a long time - but their unconscious is recording its own uncensored version.

His story was about a friend's goldfish. The goldfish started out very small but managed to survive thru wit and guile all the predators in the water. The goldfish was now the king of the fish.


  1. Great issue of the Compass. I added Ruth's interview of me to my web site
    under, "What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?"
    Ruth's questioning was one of the most intelligent and insightful that I have encountered. Great job Ruth. Bob Gordon

  2. Thanks so much, Bob. Of course you made the interview easy by supplying concise and easy-to-understand responses. Best wishes!