I know, I know, I know. Just the title of this post sounds a little too mushy to keep reading. But this is the FEELINGS business, people! And so I’d like to discuss one of the feelings that comes up often in the therapist-client relationship – L.O.V.E.
One of the best pieces of advice I received in grad school came from Professor Allyson Jervey, LCSW, who said, “It’s okay to love your clients.”
You may be curious about if your therapist can really love you. If you’ve been in therapy before, you know that boundaries are a really important part of it. The amount of time spent together, the location, the fee, and the sharing of resources all create boundaries in therapy. And therapists cannot have dual relationships with their clients, such as being friends or having romantic encounters. I appreciate all of these boundaries because they actually make it safe for therapists to love our clients in a way that is healthy and healing. It's not the same love as that of a partner, parent, sibling or friend. It has a place of its own.
My love for my clients is kind of like this: I want to take the bravest part of me, the most accepting part of me, the most magnanimous and mindful part of me, and give it to you as a gift.
I feel so honored to get to be there to watch your lives unfolding. I want to provide a space for that unfolding, to hold open all the possibilities of who you are and who you are becoming. Without judgement, without telling you what you “should” do. Together we can create a space that has room for the whole story, the scary parts and the funny parts, the lonely parts and the together parts. It makes me smile to think about how enormous and long and unique your stories are, how full of grit, and courage, and connection. I expect there will be many more twists in your stories!
Because of the boundaries on the therapeutic relationship, I do not share with you all the things about me and my life. (After all, I wouldn’t want your session to become about me!) But I want you to know that your unfolding stories are woven into my experience of the world. I long for justice when you share with me the ways you have been harmed by the world and the people in it. I feel hopeful when I see you build up your resources to meet challenges. I feel gratitude when I hear about the webs of family and friendship that cocoon around you in times of sadness and fear, and stretch to let you explore in times of growth and change.
You are a part of my web. Your ideas and feelings and actions float through me, surprise me, inspire me. Hearing your stories unfold each week changes my own story. Thank you for letting me be your therapist. Thank you for letting me draw upon my best self to meet you and help you draw upon your best self. I believe that because of our time together, we will be changed for good.
Are you wanting to get connected with a therapist who will accept and explore your WHOLE story? Learn about Therapy Austin’s Counselors and then fill out our easy, confidential online request form to Get Started.