From the Couch To the Computer
As a Psychotherapist, many of my patients enter my office to cope with and work through anxiety, depression, and/or relational difficulties. Beneath these presenting problems, there tends to be common core issues that contribute heavily to their painful symptoms. I utilize a variety of therapeutic approaches as I aim to help alleviate my patient’s suffering, increase their capacity to be curious about and accept all parts of themselves (as well as others), and to become more proactive in making the necessary behavioral shifts to live a content, fulfilling, and balanced life.
In my clinical practice, I am quite mindful of how I respond to a patient asking for advice. The question is commonly communicated as “Jordan, what should I do about ‘x’?” If I were to answer this question, I would probably feel guilty and unempowering. I feel a sense of responsibility to help my patients examine both unconscious and conscious material as it arises organically.
Should I answer this question impulsively, I might rob us of uncovering some incredibly important material. You see, it is often this question that they are seeking an answer to which contributes powerfully to their suffering.
I often invite my patient to be curious about their fantasies as to how I might respond to their inquiry, their motivation(s) for asking me, the feelings associated with asking this question, as well as the feelings, problem(s), consequences, and benefits to approaching ‘x’ from a variety of perspectives and potential behavioral adjustments.
As you can imagine, my deflection-albeit a necessary one- can leave my patient feeling letdown, among other emotions. However, there are patients who appreciate my resistance to answering with the above-stated probing. The discussion can often evolve into some of our more rich, dynamic, and energizing conversations. It’s often my experience to hear them approach ‘x’ going forward with more richness, energy, and dynamism!
When I leave work and spend time with friends and family, I often get asked, “Jordan, what should I do about ‘x’?” I often feel conflicted about how to respond. Part of me wants to invite them to be as curious about the question as I encourage my patients to be.
However, given the differing nature of the relationship dynamics of patient-therapist and friend-therapist, as well as ethical concerns, I have reservations about indulging in a conversation with them in a similar way I would in my practice. Furthermore, as connected as I often feel with my patients, I sometimes leave work exhausted and have my own emotional needs that deserve attention, understanding, and compassion.
With that being said, I enjoy answering these questions from my friends and family. It brings me joy to be able to respond without delving into the depths in which I normally do with my patients, especially if my answering alleviates even the smallest amount of suffering in their lives. I rarely experience as much happiness as I do when, after offering some feedback, that friend or family member expresses gratitude for our brief yet intimate dialogue.
With some encouragement from friends, family, and colleagues, I have decided to start a blog to share feedback, exercises, books, and anything else that may be helpful to my followers. I will use the work in my clinical practice as well as questions I get from peers as resources for my posts. Additionally, I would encourage readers to email me with any specific questions they have.
I’m more than willing to post responses to these questions, especially if there are correlating themes among emailers. I would be happy to maintain confidentiality in my subsequent posts/responses to these questions. Feel free to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org (:
- In case the reader wants to further understand how my clinical acumen has been informed, it might be necessary for me to share the theories and belief systems I integrate in my practice. These are: Psychodynamic Theory, Attachment Theory, Relational Theory, and Zen Buddhism. I also have been in some form of psychotherapy or clinical consultation since 2008. Additionally, I have been studying and practicing Zen Buddhism since 2009. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in private practice located in Chicago, Illinois working with adolescents and young adults, with a particular focus and passion for Group Psychotherapy. When I’m not seeing patients, I travel, see plenty of live music, watch Chicago Sports, maintain an active lifestyle, and will try almost anything that induces playfulness.
- Please advise that any and all posts are not a form of Counseling or Psychotherapy aimed at treating mental illness. If readers do have ongoing mental health concerns, they are encouraged to seek professional help.