40 Minute Guilt Session

0womanWatching clients transform is my favorite thing!

One morning, I covered for a colleague who does talk therapy while that therapist was out on vacation. The clients cannot be rescheduled as they are court mandated to attend. I had an hour with a client whom I had never met, and thus had no rapport to begin with; we were starting as strangers. Having covered this population for the colleague previously, I expected that she would merely want to chat the hour down and get her credit for being where she needed to be; but I was wrong.

I introduced myself and asked if she had anything she wanted to get done or just wanted to kill down the clock. She said “actually, there is something.” “Oh, great! What’s up?” She discussed her feelings of guilt and shame over having been away from her children while incarcerated and feeling somewhat removed from them now that she was back in their lives. She had suffered again by knowing they could live without her and was feeling unnecessary and unwanted. When it came to discussing these things with her loved ones, she stated she did not want them to feel upset or ashamed, so she merely said nothing.

After listening for about 20 minutes, I began the process of disassembling guilt. I was unsure how much we could get done in under the 40 minutes we had remaining as I could hear the layers of pain and faulty thinking, like multiple colors of old paint she had laid over the truth. But with just a moment to spare, we wrapped up and she said she could no longer get in touch with the feelings of guilt and shame any more and was eager to sit down with her family and be vulnerable with how she felt while incarcerated and now, and whatever they said in response would be perfectly acceptable to her.

Sometimes therapy is like a leisurely walk, and sometimes it is a sprint, but that finish line for the client makes it all worthwhile.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

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