Insights into a therapist’s patients.
My very first client ducked his head as he came through the door to my counselling room. His arms and neck were decorated in bright tattoos. He sat in the leather chair opposite looking like he’d rather be anywhere but here. He held a bottle of water and I noticed that when he tried to speak his mouth was dry with nerves. I looked into his eyes and noticed how they darted about like a scared child. My overwhelm at his size reduced. It felt like a scared little boy had walked into my room. His legs jiggled with anxiety. I smiled kindly to help put him at ease.
“Where would you like to begin Peter?”
“I’m really not sure. It feels like such a jumble in my head.”
“Ok, let’s start with how you feel in this moment about being here.”
“I’m terrified. I’ve never been to therapy before and I’ve never spoken about this stuff.” He paused and took a deep breath. “My memories hinder my life every day. I take sleeping tablets. I have palpitations. And I know that my relationships have suffered because of what happened to me.” As he spoke he ran his fingers through his hair with shaking hands.
This was a start and told me that Peter was willing to talk but I had to tread carefully.
“Would you like to tell me what happened?” I asked gently.
Peter shared with me that as a child he was beaten each and every day by his father. He had spent his childhood walking on eggshells and frequently hid under his bed when he heard his father’s car come into the driveway. I winced as I imagined a cowering six year old boy being beaten by a huge father. I could see the pain and confusion in Peter’s eyes as he spoke.
“I don’t understand what I did wrong. He only ever beat me. My brothers were not beaten. Sometimes he was ok with me but it didn’t last. He would blow up at the slightest thing. I didn’t like being in the house at the weekends. Mum didn’t protect me. She was scared of him too I think. ”
I took a breath as I the atmospheric heaviness. “This feels very hard for you.” I acknowledged. He nodded. “Telling this out loud feels good though.” he said, “It’s the first time. Nobody knows. It was a family secret. He made sure the…