The first hurdle of therapyby Anna Blundy / April 24, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
“My patient’s delivery is breathless and excited; she is jumpy, often leaping out of her chair to act out a scene from her life”
For 18 months I have been seeing my patient for weekly therapy. She has been assigned to me as part of my two-year training to become a psychotherapist. Our first anxious session seems a long time ago. I was extra early, I arranged and rearranged the chairs, read and reread her notes, adjusted the lighting, practised sitting in my chair in a psychotherapeutic manner. Legs crossed? Arms folded? Scarf on or off? Psychotherapists always wear scarves. On. There is an unspoken rule that female therapists should wear skirts. I obeyed it.
But this particular Tuesday morning I was not wildly energetic. My own 50 minutes of psychoanalysis—an obligatory part of training—had been gruelling. I am on the couch five times a week, my male and betrousered analyst sitting behind me with his notepad, occasionally venturing a “quite” (he is Kleinian—you probably wouldn’t get even a “quite” out of a Freudian analyst).
When my patient marches in, plonks herself down, grins and begins her usual monologue about how she’ll soon be a famous actress I feel wearier than ever. Her delivery is breathless and excited; she is jumpy, often leaping out of her chair to act out a scene from her life, and, although she meets my eye, she seems not to see me. She talks. And talks. And talks.
I recross my legs, adjust my scarf and think about the coffee I will make myself iiin… I surreptitiously check the clock… only 8 minutes now! I try, as I have been encouraged to do in supervision, to ignore the content, to concentrate on the effect. How is she making me feel? I decide she is making me feel like a cup of coffee. I…