By Suzanne Bender MD, Edward Messner MD
Read or Download Becoming a Therapist: What Do I Say, and Why? PDF
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Extra info for Becoming a Therapist: What Do I Say, and Why?
Let’s play back the first phone conversation, illustrating how I could protect my schedule by offering a number of reasonable appointment times. 4 The first phone conversation: The therapist sets up a viable appointment time THERAPIST: Hi, is this Ms. Sally Gane? SALLY: Yes. THERAPIST: Hi, this is Dr. Suzanne Bender; I got your message. SALLY: Oh, hi. I got your name from Dr. Newman, my doctor at school. THERAPIST: You mentioned in your message that you might be interested in therapy. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are looking for?
That’s been happening every now and then. I realized that I had to do something, so I made this appointment. 2 illustrates a very traditional psychoanalytic approach to the first session. I avoid directing the interview in any way as I listen to Sallie’s associations. Years ago, many first sessions were conducted with this approach. While the psychotherapist may have asked a few questions of the patient, in general, she would intrude as little as possible. The patient would associate freely, saying whatever came to mind.
Therapists arrange the chairs in their office at various distances, depending on their own culture and style. If the patient and I might kick each other’s feet by accident, we’re too close. Depending on the population I am working with, I might set up the room so that I am closer to the door, allowing for a quick exit in case a patient becomes physically threatening. I hope I never have to escape from my office, but in case of an emergency, this setup would facilitate an easy departure. Talking across a desk can be very formal and not conducive to intimate conversation; my patient may feel like an employee reporting to her superior.