It’s that time of year here in the UK, when our TV screens are full of dreaming carrots, robins rushing home, bouncing bulldogs, shiny wrapped gifts, big furry toys on roller skates and of course the obligatory reindeer dashing through the snow…
But ordinary life still goes on.
While Christmas can be a time of real joy, for some it brings simply sadness, painful memories, and a stark reminder of being alone. Christmas may not be part of your religion or culture. It can feel like an intrusion or irritation making the ordinary, everyday tasks twice as difficult and twice as time-consuming. And of course, many people are also working over Christmas itself.
The festive season can be a difficult subject within the therapy room as well. How do you handle potential holiday times and the change of routine in regular sessions? How do you best support those clients in crisis?
For some, the important season may not be Christmas, but Hanukkah, Eid, or Diwali etc. Whatever the season and time of year, life does goes on, but it can be a struggle to maintain the everyday routine or accomplish everyday tasks against the busy-ness in the shops and markets.
It can also be a struggle to maintain everyday life when dealing with powerful processes in therapy at any time of the year.
So we need to make some space to enable a client to adjust at the end of a session to go back out into the world. We need to provide that emotional and physical space to re-balance the everyday with the special pressures of either the season or the particular level of process for the client.
And we need to do that for ourselves as well.
So leave some time at the end of a session for some review and re-connection to the outside world for your client. And leave some time for yourself in between client sessions to “let go” of one process before connecting with the next one. It takes time to find the best system that works for you.
I know some therapists who work with a 50-minute hour and have 10mins between sessions. I know therapists who run client sessions for a full hour and even 1hr 15mins as standard, and have 15mins, 30mins or 5mins between sessions. It took me about 18 months to find that I needed 30mins between client appointments if I was going to serve my clients and myself well.
There’s no standard “one size fits all” – it’s important to find what works for you.
And if you put those elements into your regular routine, they will serve you every day, and especially at those times of deep inner emotion for your client, and at those times of year when the pressures of the world and celebrations occupy our space and lives a little more than usual.
Find your own balance and enjoy your season.