……Or “How to deal with interruptions in a therapy session”!
As therapists, we can hold boundaries such as confidentiality and privacy as much as possible for ourselves and our clients, but we cannot legislate for every occurrence, and indeed there are those occurrences which “just happen” that we have little or no control over.
One day the door suddenly opened and into my therapy session walked A N Other person…. This person came in despite the notice on the door “Session in Progress”.
A counsellor related to me how the Manager of a partner organisation in the same building had repeatedly knocked on the door of a therapy room during a session until he had gone out and remonstrated that he was not going to interrupt the session even for him. The Manager had left a ladder in the room which was desperately needed.
What would you have done in these situations?
If you had been the client, what impact would these events have on you? How would you want the therapist to respond?
My therapist went outside and dealt with the person outside the room, returned, apologised and acknowledged that his process was also interrupted. He allowed us both to express that, explore the impact and then recover and resume.
The counsellor had refused to give way and spent precious session time dealing with the event both with the Manager and the client who had heard the angry exchange – and subsequently in supervision.
So much for “The Door and The Ladder”….But what about “A Wasp and Two Chairs?”…
During one very hot summer, one of my sessions was interrupted by a wasp flying in through an open window.
A colleague turned up one day to find that her chair and room had been turned into Santa’s grotto by the organisation in whose building she worked……
Another colleague related to me once how, with identical chairs for himself and the client, his chair quite simply totally collapsed mid-session without any warning ….
If you had been the therapist, how would you have dealt with it? How would you have brought those events into the process for yourself and your client?
Of course, we hold boundaries. It’s an essential part of the process. And we also need to be realistic and flexible.
So – what happened next?……
The wasp flew off happy, encouraged out of the still open window, after a request from the client (to me not the wasp!).
Santa’s grotto was partly dismantled by my colleague for her sessions and then re-assembled afterwards all ready for Santa again.
And my other colleague invited his client to join him sitting on the floor for the rest of the session – after they had both recovered from the laughter.
Remember – it’s not the event that dictates the outcome, it’s how you manage it.