The Teachings of Muad’Dweeb: How Not to Therapist
I fancy myself a fairly intelligent man. Am I right? Depends who I’m stacked against. If it’s against Dan then yeah, I’m a fuckin genius, but if you stack me against Kendra then I’m barely able to hold a coherent thought (I’m still better looking though so Idris is mine, foo!) Anyway, smart or not, I do have some thoughts in regards to therapy and therapists. As I am new to the experience of therapy I am learning its ins and outs, but I have notes for some of you that may aspire to help others. I’d like to focus this time, if you’ll indulge me, on what not to do. Of these I am certain:
- Don’t pick at your feet. I recognize we all have our ticks. I like to twirl my beard hair like I’m a teenager gossiping on the phone. I also enjoy cracking my knuckles, farting and randomly singing (incorrect) song lyrics, but when if someone had just said to me “Someone tried to murder me”, I would likely just sit forward in my chair and listen, unblinking, to a person in need. I wouldn’t pick my feet. I wouldn’t run my fingers down under my ankle socks to get at an itch. I just fuckin wouldn’t. If you’re the kind of person who would, I… well, I just don’t even know what to say.
- Don’t interrupt your client to tell you how much you love the writing on a sitcom. This is doubly true during the midst of the #MeToo movement when the head writer does unwelcome, unconscionable things to and around women. This is triply true if someone has just said “After all I have been through in my life, I just want to be a good husband and father, you know?”
- Don’t bury your face in your notes. I get it, you need your notes to remember stuff. I write notes all the time. “Creamer. Seaweed snacks for the girls. Check USPS for package status.” If someone said to me “XYZ person tried to murder me” I would remember that. Also, and this is just me spit balling here, don’t pick at your feet and write notes face down after someone tells you “XYZ family member did ABC when I was a kid.”
- Don’t ever say to someone who has just told you how important their family is to them, “It’s okay to just be an okay parent. Science shows you can do the bare minimum and your kids will be okay.” After what I just told you, the only sentence you could have said more inane is, “Have you considered giving them up for adoption?” I’d have rather you stared at your paper writing notes.
- Don’t stare at the clock you’ve positioned behind your patient so you can tell them the second their session is over. Look I get it, time is money, but if you cut me off mid sentence to tell me the session is over, I’m never coming back. And don’t pick your feet one more time before you get up to SHAKE MY FUCKING HAND.
The above list obviously isn’t comprehensive and I’m sure as my search for a great therapist continues I’ll add to it, but if one more of you mother fuckers picks your feet, I’m going to call you on it. Do that shit at home while you’re watching the Great British Baking Show for all I care.
I do want to end this short post on a happy note: The first woman I went to see was remarkable. My one hour trial sessions with her was remarkable, cathartic, and safe. I felt believed, and heard, and sympathized with. When I was saying my peace, she was leaning forward in her chair, looking at me, engaged. I could see her heart sink, but also her resolve to help me grow. I’d have stayed with her if she wasn’t about to leave on maternity leave. At the rate the rest of these knuckleheads are going, though, by the time I find a decent replacement she’ll be back on the clock, so I’ll stick to playing games like Slime Rancher and Stardew Valley until then.
I know a few people have reached out to me, concerned for me. I’m touched, and feel so grateful there are good, loving people in my life, and it is a constant source of hope. I’m really okay, I know what my traumas are and what I need to get off my chest, and I have enough self-awareness to know what my own shortcomings are, so I’m working on it. For the girls, for the boss, for everyone. I will never turn away a good hug or word of encouragement, though! Check in all you want, and I’ll do the same. My hunt for a therapist is just about taking the steps I need to so that I can be the best father and husband I can be.
… thinking more about it, maybe no one should pick at their feet in public at all, maybe.