I want to say thank you to my clinical supervisor, and now good friend, for teaching me what really matters most in being a psychotherapist, and a human being. Five years have passed and we havent missed a weeks session. I would like to share some of the more poignant lessons I've learned from my supervisor.
1. Relationships are what matter most in life...not money, power, fame. Relationships are the substance that holds life together, some are born in situations where they cannot get this basic need met and are deeply wounded. However, in the human spirit lies a greater power, a power that instinctively seeks growth, healing, and connections...our job is to help remove those barriers to growth and let the person do the rest.
2. Listen deeply, say little. When you do speak, think deeply before the words exit your mouth. Besides, letting the person talk freely will always lead to the heart of their issues. We humans have the need to process our thoughts/feelings...we dont like to admit it, but we do. We often try to hide such needs through drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, etc. Those are just band-aids.
3. Never judge. You dont know what you would actually do if you were in the same position. I have worked in a community mental health clinic with the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the mentally ill. I am still amazed at the need for love and connection that even the most grossly psychotic person needs...people are people no matter what color their skin, no matter how much money they make. Love them all just the same.
4. Be Genuine. Learn all the techniques, theories you can...then forget them. Being real is what matters with people. Especially with people who have been hurt, burned, and abused and can smell a liar a mile away. Besides, those hurt people are all of us to some degree.
5. Boundaries. You gotta have them. The are what determines what defines you individually and relationally. They make us and break us. People will try to draw you into their life drama, to play a part that is not originally yours, help them have an emotionally corrective experience by showing them a new relationship through good boundaries.
6. Never assume you know what another person is thinking, feeling, experiencing...more times than not when you do this you are wrong and you are actually talking more about your own issues than listening to someone elses.
7. Know yourself. Know your vices. Know your biases. They WILL come through in your relationships, whether personal or professional. Go to therapy. Society makes fun of therapy but thats because most are afraid of what is really going on inside them. This fear imprisons people, makes them slaves to themselves. Growth is about letting go of fear and gaining strength/freedom.
8. Service. Give freely withut expecting something in return. Our job is often not immediately rewarded. We plant seeds in every contact we make with others, what kind of fruits will those seeds yeild? Good, empowering, growth fruit or something more sinister and destructive.
I will miss you greatly. Thank you for the invaluable lessons in life and work. You've raised me, a great therapist. Now if I could learn to apply all those lessons...lol. We all have our vices! haha.