On the last day of my graduate internship this past spring, my supervisor gave me a copy of Mary Pipher’s book, “Letters to a Young Therapist.” Dr. Pipher shares the insight she has gained from thirty years of experience as a therapist, working with a clientele ranging from adolescents to intricate families. Her witty words seem to have a storybook effect on the reader, which makes it hard to put the book down. I recently spotted the book on my shelf and felt compelled to share a couple of the refreshing and relatable passages.
For me, the best trick is to not have tricks. When I attempt to be clever or sophisticated, I often confuse myself and my clients. Once when I suggested what I thought was a brilliant, rather mysterious, homework assignment, my client asked me if I was on drugs. Another time when I predicted the future in an attempt to generate a self-fulfilling prophecy, my client looked at me in the eyes and said bluntly, “If you can predict the future, you ought to go to Vegas.”
Here’s one that I think other counselors (and fellow ACA bloggers) may be able to relate to on a personal and professional level:
As a way to deal with her intense grief, I recommended that she write. I said, “For me, writing is the best therapy. I don’t know how people who don’t write survive.” For many years, I wrote in the mornings and did therapy in the afternoon. Both jobs involve spending time in small rooms waiting for inspiration. And both possess a considerable amount of mumbo-jumbo. The tools of our trade include our intuition, intelligence, warmth, and character structures. Overtime, competent writers and therapists develop a voice. Work done with a true voice looks natural and easy to observers.
What books have impacted the way you perceive your career? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Sadaf Siddiqi is a certified counselor with an interest in mental health research and its application to children and families. Please share your thoughts with her at firstname.lastname@example.org