My job is challenging, but maybe not for the reasons you suspect.
Each and everyday I meet people who welcome me into their lives. Each and everyone that comes into my office becomes part of my life in some way. I spend time, try and build trust, and offer what I can in terms of tools and support to help them move from where they are to where they want to be.
One of the absolute hardest parts of my job is saying goodbye to someone before I know they are ready. Thankfully I can count the number of people this has happened to, but the couple of individuals who have left therapy before they were ready always hold a spot in my mind and my heart.
I have had a couple clients over the years of practicing say to me, "You only care because I have to pay you." That always stings a little bit. They are not entirely wrong I suppose?Most people who come to me have started seeing me because of an agreed upon contract which includes payment. So how do I prove to people that yes, you do have to pay me, however that does not discount how much I am truly invested and how much I care. I wouldn't be the therapist I was if I was only doing this job for the pay check. I don't think any amount of money can create empathy and care; I truly think that you can feel the authenticity.
I struggle when someone makes that call to not come back. I know there are many reasons why people have to stop. Finances, children, schedules, fear, disconnection... the list goes on. When the decision is made, I try as hard I can to set something else up for that person. I try and discuss with them what the reasoning is, how we can problem solve, and what needs to change.
The biggest worry I have is that the illness is preventing them from continuing with care. I know what it feels like to be scared; I know what it feels like to be resistant. I know what it feels like to not want to talk about the hard stuff. So I worry. I worry that they are making the decisions for the wrong reasons, I worry that there are barriers to them getting help that we can work through. I worry that that person who took that step to work so hard to come so far is now on their own to battle the war that brought them to me in the first place.
I struggle with knowing how often to reach out, how many emails to send, and how pushy to be. It is tough. My worst fear is that someone thinks that I am doing this because I need a pay check. Because I need that hour's work. That is so far from the truth. I really should work a lot less!
So, I wanted to write this post as a reminder to anyone reading this that I am thinking of you and finish it with a letter to anyone I have ever worked with and who I no longer have contact with.
It's me, Carly.
I just wanted you to know that you deserve to feel well. You deserve to have a voice and to have someone support you. You have spent so long waking up living the same life over and over again and I really hope you are now living a life that is bright, vibrant, and full of everything you enjoy. I want you to know that my door is always open, I will always make time for anyone I have ever invested time in. I want you to know that I care and that I am proud of all you have accomplished.
I want you to remember that no matter how strong the illness is, we can be stronger. I want you to know that you are in control, and you are strong enough to do it, but doing it alone is so hard.
Lastly, if you are ever feeling like I wouldn't want to hear the good, bad, or ugly—I do! Nothing makes me happier than to hear from someone I used to work with telling me how they are doing and how they are living their life. A wedding announcement, a new book you read, a walk you went on, a baby you had. I would love to know.
Take good care, you know where to find me.