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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

I Just Can’t Help But Take It Personally

Recently I found out that there is a suite available in an office building I first looked at 15 years ago. It’s a newer building with a few perks. Patty would have a large window in her administrative area. There is covered parking and an adjacent building has a cafeteria. Okay, that would be pretty cool.

But the new office space is no longer an option. They gave me their reason and I take it personally. You see, the decision makers for the building “decided to pass. ” Their email last week said they “just couldn’t get comfortable with the use.” I suspected there was a problem because we were discussing dates and rates and then there was an eerie delay in the progress. They went quiet for longer than you would expect.

I have to wonder what they would say if they knew that one of their largest tenants in one of their buildings sees me professionally. He lost a parent a few years ago and needed help with his grieving.

Then there is the family who could very likely live in the surrounding neighborhood whose son is bipolar. They have been working with me for years and credit their son’s success in college to his compliance with his medications. In therapy he was able to come to terms with his mood issues and recognize that he benefits from the support of his parents and therapy. He will make a difference in this world someday and we may all benefit.

Then there are those who see me in marital therapy. One of the couples could include the building owner's classroom teacher or maybe a husband who led their son in a Boy Scout troop. Most recently, I started seeing a woman who found out about her husband’s many infidelities. She blamed herself and now understands that his discretions are not due to her inadequacies but are due to his choice to be disloyal and deceptive. Their divorce will be final soon and she benefits from the support provided in therapy. She would tell anyone that talking with someone who is objective has helped her understand that she has to develop some kind of relationship with the father of her children. She is getting there and her anger is finally manageable.

She is a mom, a sister, a friend, and a daughter. Her value to those around her and in her community proves that she is not crazy.

The man who is grieving is also not crazy.

The family coping with bipolar is also not crazy.

In over 20 years in my profession, I’ve come to this conclusion; When someone comes to therapy there is more “right” with him or her than there is wrong.

In my experience it is the “working well” who come to therapy. It is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness to ask for help. We all have gaps in our ability to cope, especially when we feel isolated, stressed, misunderstood, or when we lack the education to know what to do or we run out of ideas of what to do next.

That is where a good psychologist can help.

My job is to work myself out of a job. If I do my job well, you won’t become dependent on me or the process of therapy. You will benefit for having had the experience. The real therapy happens between our sessions because of what you think and do differently for having been in my office. I don’t make decisions for you. I help you know what you need to consider as you make the decisions for yourself.

I’ve been in the same office building for almost 15 years now. I was pregnant with my youngest son, Sam, when we sealed the deal for my original lease. It’s cozy and my office is kind of an odd shape. You can hear people walking up the stairs with a pounding rhythm to their steps. I’ve gotten use to it and so have the people who see me professionally. It adds a bit of charm.

On second thought . . . I didn’t want your stinking lease at the new place anyway. I like it right where I am. I think I’ll stay.

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