If, like me, you don’t have a dishwasher, life sometimes seems to contain rather a lot of washing up. When I engage with hosting social events, entertaining friends and neighbours, experimenting with new recipes, having family to stay, or simply cooking a treat for myself, there’s always the washing up at the end.

Now I know you are already thinking “what has this got to do with therapy?”

Trust me on this. Stay with me here!

Washing-up is a very physical activity – even if you have a dishwasher, you have to scrape and stack the plates etc! It’s an integral part of an event – an experience, however you do it.

I remember one very busy day in a work department finding that I only was left in the building when we seemed to have used every single mug and teaspoon in the kitchen – and I was left with the washing-up!

But washing-up is not only a physical activity. It brings a time to reflect on the event or experience that has produced the washing-up. It’s a time to enjoy moments again; to review what worked and what didn’t work so well; and to prepare for the next event, experience; or simply set things in order again.

After each session of therapy or the end of a therapy process, there needs to be a time of review, reflection, clearing up, sorting and straightening out. At times that will be practical, as in my busy day example above.   Or the room may need clearing up if you work creatively and have moved things around to enable the therapy session itself. But there needs to be time also for reflection, review, remembering.

Of course, with family events, there may be a lot of helpers to do the washing-up – or they may all go home and leave you with everything! As therapists, we generally find it to be a solitary activity or a one-to-one experience in supervision – though obviously also a peer group or group supervision session will support the emotional & mental washing-up.

But remember – washing-up is part of the dinner party, and the therapy session. It’s part of the whole process. It’s simply not possible to work without it. The rest of the process depends on your washing up emotionally, physically and mentally.

It’s an essential part of the balance in the whole process.

So don’t forget the washing-up!