DEBBIE - THERAPIST
My name is Debbie. I am a psychotherapist. I work predominantly with people’s emotional wellbeing. However, on some occasions I am lucky enough to be referred a client that has quite serious mental health problems but only if there is an evidence base that psychotherapy has had good results in the past with the presenting issue. I enjoy the challenge of this work the most, because the mind and mental health issues has always interested me.
I absolutely love my work, I love the diverse people that I get to meet and I love to observe the emotional growth that I see with my clients.
Although it would be unethical for me to see my clients for personal reward it would be a lie to say that I didn’t feel a sense of satisfaction when a client ends therapy in a much better place than when they started.
I enjoy supporting my clients to reach their long term goals. It is an uplifting experience when I see their stuckness unravel before my eyes or when that light bulb experience brightly lights up the therapy room.
I love that I learn as much from them as they learn from me. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction when each client that I work with helps me to grow, not only as a professional but as a person too.
The story that I am about to tell you is concerning three of my clients whom during our sometimes dramatic time together, tested both my professionalism and my strength. They caused me to question my moral principles and they weathered my own emotions but at the same time they brought me great joy.
It is a heartbreaking story that I have no doubt will shock you to the core. It will command you to examine the complexity of the human mind. It is a story that will test your strength to its limits, and it will without any doubt pull on your heart strings leaving you in floods of tears.
It is also a heart warming story that examines human emotions and the capacity of pain in which one human being is able to endure. I know with certainty that even after reading this unusual but honest account, Jane, Jack and Jasmine will linger in your thoughts long after you put the book down.
All three of my charming but intricate clients accessed my services at around the same time.
It was in May 2010, just when spring was ready to encounter summer and for me the best time of the year.
It is the time when the daffodils are out in bloom providing a ray of colour in the once bleak gardens, and the summer flowers are just beginning to shyly steal a look at the world as they peer through the damp soil. It is when the smell of fresh air ventilates the house, as the curtains sway in the subtle breeze pouring through the now open windows.
It is a season that energises people into new beginnings. It is a time for growth and change for both nature and for people. It is a comfortable and endurable time where we are not shivering in the freezing cold of winter or sweltering in the blistering heat of summer.
I have worked tirelessly with these clients for just over three years, through twelve spectacular changes of the seasons. Each season bringing new revelations and resurrecting new emotions, emotions for all of us that we had never before experienced.
In the beginning a good many long hours were spent building up relationships with Jack, Jane and Jasmine whom all predictably had trust issues. These needed to be assiduously worked through before the fundamental work could begin.
It was a difficult and painful passage of time, where we shared tears of sadness and tears of joy and we faced many challenges as the seasons continued to transform and unfold.
It was a period of painful endings and a cycle of apprehensive new beginnings, for all of us. It was an interval of my life that I will never forget.
The first person I was to meet was Jack. The reluctant but willing Jack, he was a reasonable and charming young man, observant and very cheeky, regularly bringing his captivating sense of humour into the therapy room.
I established pretty soon in our relationship that this aspect of his personality was due to a belief that if he was not charismatic then he would not measure up or be loved and respected by people, including myself.
I had a hunch that his humour was a coping strategy that he had developed at a very young age to protect himself from the pain that he had been patiently carrying. Never-the-less his humour was enlightening and refreshing and I grew to really admire him.
Following Jack I was to have the undeniable pleasure of meeting Jane, who was quiet, intelligent and graceful. She was extremely delicate and polite. She reminded me of a fragile china doll, which would break easily if not treated with upmost care.
I recognised almost immediately that she needed to be perfect in everything that she did and appeared scared to be seen as imperfect. This I learned over time concealed intense anxiety, insecurity and shame. She held a lot of self doubt and to overcome this it was important for her to come to the realisation that her expectations of herself were not only unrealistic but also may set her up for failure.
It seemed to take an eternity for her to allow me to see those perfect imperfections. It took even longer for me to see her congruent imperfections. Her real self and her real feelings were firmly protected, stored away for no one to see for fear of being unaccepted or at worst abused.
However I admired her sensitivity and her ability to be able to keep herself safe.
Last but not least was Jasmine, the flamboyant and beautiful Jasmine. She was inventive but brusque in manner and it took me quite a while to warm to her. However, she was dreadfully melodramatic; she regularly exhibited overblown responses to situations or stimuli, often to create a drama to draw attention to herself.
She was what I’d call ‘a tough cookie,’ and that was how she always presented herself, but my intuition told me that this was her mask to protect herself from mine or anyone else’s intrusion into her life. To be able to help her in therapy I needed to bring her to awareness that life wasn’t all about her, that other people needed attention too.
Unlike Jane, Jasmine was an extrovert, a wild child that dressed to shock.
Her admiring virtues were her protective qualities of others, her ability to turn her wounds into wisdom and her strength to say things as they are, and not beat about the bush.
All three were extremely challenging clients. They were very unique, differing in personalities, and presented in very diverse ways. Moving between their personalities in their distinct therapy sessions was painstaking and at times disheartening and eventually led me to the decision to take time out from therapy and write this book.
Jack, Jane and Jasmine all felt a part of my life, and they were in a sense, they were a huge part of my professional life. I had never met anyone like them and I am sure I will never meet anyone like them again.
I initially took on these clients with trepidation, wondering if I would have the skills to work with their complexities, feeling a sense of failure before I had begun. I liked a challenge, don’t get me wrong, so that was not my fear, my fear like most therapists was that I would cause them more harm than good.
What if my interventions made their delicate problems worse and not better?
Worse still what if my interventions put them at serious risk?
However, my fears were unfounded as Jack, Jane and Jasmine gained insight and a lot more besides from this sometimes bumpy, shocking and mysterious therapeutic journey. They were however, a privilege to work with and it is an honour to be able to share their extraordinary story with you.