A Question Of Time…

When it comes to time, we seem to have less and less of it these days. So spending time in a therapy session can seem a luxury. Time can often feel like a very scarce commodity. Or perhaps it’s that somehow we often waste it all too easily.

One whole hour for a therapy session is a significant amount of time to set aside.

So here’s a leftover Christmas cracker riddle for you……

Question: When is an hour not an hour?

Answer: When it’s a 50 mins therapeutic hour…..

I have worked with an organisation where I was required to run 3 sessions for 50mins with 10 mins between each session for notes.

I have also seen clients in private practice, and in other organisational settings, where I always offered a full hour, and set a session interval appropriate for me.

Now I know some approaches will work with a 50min hour. And many organisations need to maximise session availability for clients. And it’s certainly a good discipline to work with a number of “back to back” sessions, making sure notes get written up as well.

After all, the client pays for a full therapeutic service which includes a session, notes and an element of supervision as well.

So I acknowledge both logistic and financial benefits to therapists in various approaches to the time element. But what about clients?

For me personally, an hour is an hour. On occasions when I have been looking for a therapist myself, one of my questions is always “do you do a full hour or 50mins?” It might sound cheeky, but it’s important to me.

I once worked with a therapist whose sessions were 1hr 15mins. Now that’s taking it to another level.

And just perhaps 50mins makes that whole hour manageable.

I think it matters less how long the session is though, and much more on the quality of relationship and process of that session.

When was the last time you took an hour for yourself? Well….50mins at least!

Going Forward…

I once highlighted in an old Blog post, my reaction to what I feel is a much overused phrase “going forward”. Right then, as I was writing, I felt that if I heard it just once more, I might at the very least just start to stay where I was, if not go backwards!

Now, of course, the natural process of time ensures that you and I, and everyone else, are all going forward into a new year….

But what exactly does “going forward” mean?

Of course, “going forward” can simply be the process of time……we start a new year………we age a little on each birthday………. those are the natural passages of time.

In business management terms it often equates to big change. But “going forward” can signal the start of a process of upheaval, adjustment and loss as far as many workers are concerned.

So how can I make going forward positive for me………..right here………right now?

If, like me, you have recently spent extended time with family over the Christmas and New Year breaks, you may well be a little more connected with childhood memories, shared experiences from the past, and warm fuzzy feelings of “the good old days” rather than thinking about going forward anywhere.

And sometimes, it’s a real struggle to go forward into new areas such as moving house, selling the car, starting a new relationship, job or career.

Ultimately we are all going forward all the time simply with the natural passage of time. The important thing is how much we actively engage with that on an individual and personal level.

I would hate to think that even in 2 years’ time from now, I am doing exactly the same things in the same way, and not having gone forward at all in my heart.

So, perhaps I am going forward after all.

What are you going forward to this New Year?

A Little Bit Of Magic…

It’s that time of year again. And whilst no therapist or coach has a magic wand, somehow there’s that part of us that always wants to dream, share a fantasy, and experience that little bit of magic both within our lives, and within the therapeutic process.

I have been having a clear-out recently of old paperwork and clutter. It involved a lot of shredding. Among the items I pulled out of the box were some things from my daughter’s early schooldays. She had already seen them, been through them and taken what she felt she wanted us to keep. Reading through the stuff for myself slowed down the shredding process I must say!

But as I worked through the pile, and emptied my shredder bin every so often, I realised that the floor was somehow getting sprinkled with some of the glitter from her old papers.

It brought that little bit of a magic sparkle to my floor. And took an age to clear up afterwards!

But just for a while, I enjoyed the sparkle in the light and the changing, glittering colours. It was my own magical moment.

Some of the papers reflected difficult times, painful stories. Some of it, of course, was fun. But everything together resulted in that little bit of magic that is part of our family together.

That little bit of magic may feel elusive for many of us, and for much of the time, whatever time of year.

But actually, when you look through the experiences of life, somehow the everyday contains that little bit of magic already in ways we least expect or realise

We might not be able to wave a magic wand, but that magic is there waiting for us.

I hope you will find your own little bit of magic this festive season.

View from the Chair…

Aha… “But which chair?” I hear you ask……” the therapist’s chair or the client’s chair?”

Many years ago I read a book by Irvin Yalom entitled “Every Day Gets a Little Closer: A Twice-Told Therapy”.   The first half of the book consists of Yalom’s notes and reflections on sessions with a particular client.  The second half of the book consists of the client’s reflections on those same sessions.

It makes for a fascinating read.

I once accompanied a member of staff as support and advocate at a meeting with a Head of Department and HR.  When the minutes of the meeting were sent to that staff member, she commented to me that the Head of Department must have been at a different meeting from her!

One event, but two very different views and experiences of that event.

That concept of one event described differently by each of those experiencing that event is a recognised process.  There are many examples in history and in literature.

But back to therapy.

So, you write up your notes at the end of the session.  Perhaps your client goes home and writes up his/her account in a journal.

Just imagine that somehow you got to read each other’s notes….!

Just the thought will help to smarten up your note-taking any way!

And whilst it’s an unlikely occurrence in itself, it should at least serve to encourage us to check-in with the client about their own experience.

Be congruent and share your understanding of something and check it out against the client’s experience.  Share a feeling or impression, and check it out against the client’s own feelings. Be bold, and ask the client for their feelings and reflections on the shared process and check it out against your own.

It opens up a whole new part of the process within that therapeutic relationship.

What’s your story of your day today?

The Frog and the Drainpipe…

Sometimes we may be very focussed and mentally alert and manage to say exactly the right thing at the right time in a session with a client.

Sometimes we miss it entirely and only realise it later when reflecting on our notes or in supervision. And then after we have missed it, we might even try to engineer the situation in order to get our words in – but that absolutely never works – the moment has passed and can’t be recovered.

And sometimes it just happens.

Like the frog and the drainpipe.

Recently I and my neighbour were talking with a plumber about the drainpipes on the side of our building. The joints between the downpipes and the waste pipes have broken and water is pouring down our walls.

The situation has been going on for some time, and we have tried to get the repairs completed with increasing levels of frustration and dissatisfaction and a complete lack of response or success.

On this latest consultation, the two of us were being very assertive about our levels of dissatisfaction with the situation. The builder examined the downpipes, tested the surrounding ground which is now sodden even given the recent heat, and even took photos of the affected downpipes.

And then out jumped the frog. He appeared from nowhere. But with perfect timing!

It just happened.

Go with the flow – like the frog quite literally!

Don’t push it; don’t try to force a skill or technique; don’t engineer it in order to get your assessment across; just allow whatever happens to happen. Trust the process, and your instinct. Cultivate your own inner supervisor; listen to your body, your senses.

And allow the moment.

You don’t have to create the whole play, but you do need to set the stage, water the ground, and engage with the unfolding process. Wait for the magic moment…..

My vote goes to the frog!

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