The clients I can’t talk about

Back in the beginning of August, I had A LOT of people who were dissatisfied with their careers. Either they felt like they were in the wrong fields entirely, or they were in the right field but wrong position within that field. Those cases were all reasonably simple, because the crux of most of them was simply giving permission to want something different than what they’d spent all their time achieving, and then making a plan to get to that new thing as efficiently as possible.

For the last few weeks, though, I’ve had some clients that brought me complex, complicated personal problems that are outside the scope of therapy because they’re more interpersonal strategy than feelings. (Let’s remember that I love therapy, for myself and for everyone in the world. I think that if everyone spent six months with a good therapist about 80% of the world’s problems would just evaporate. Shirtless Putin, you go first.)

This recent chunk of clients had problems that were more interpersonal than about themselves, although their own feelings were important. A lot of the issues were negotiations, either overt or underlying, with another person or group or institution.

I had people trying to negotiate responsibilities inside relationships (both romantic relationships and familial relationships). Some were things that had come to a head because of work or health issues, but a few were long-standing blocks.

I helped two people decide if they should stay married or not, and another person make a plan to tell their kids that they were separating.

I helped two people (both men, incidentally) push past the one-dimensional pro/con list to decide between two life paths. (I mention that they were both men because I think men are trained to look at things as a balance sheet, so the magic in the consult was helping them find other ways to balance and evaluate absolute and relative value of the two paths they each had.)

I helped two people with convoluted and deeply painful situations that they’ve requested I not discuss, even vaguely.

I wonder what it is that’s making September the month people allow their own hurt and confusion to be valid? I mean, it takes having some faith in yourself and some hope that there can be a resolution to contact a stranger or near-stranger to help you untangle your problem. People only come to me because they think it’s possible not to be in pain. I wonder if maybe it’s the new beginnings aspect of September that’s giving people the kick to get out of limbo.

Now I’m wondering what’s going to happen next.


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