It turns out that your therapist has a few–*gasp*–expectations! Deep breaths, everyone. Peel yourself off the floor if you fainted. I can wait…
“Expectations” is practically a dirty word, isn’t it? Therapists aren’t supposed to have them. We’re supposed to be unconditionally supportive, allowing you to be as you are in any given moment.
Yes… and I still expect certain things from you. Maybe that’s the human in me. The human that cares about you, invests in you, wants the best for you, and wishes you could see yourself the way I do.
So what do I–your human therapist–expect?
Mostly, I just want you to keep doing what works. You’ve spent time, money, and energy on learning a different way to do things. And if that way is working for you, then please keep it up! Even if you stumble along the way. It’s cool. I’ll be there with you to assess what’s working and what’s not.
All I ask is that you remember how hard you worked to get here. I saw your struggle. I know it hurt, but damn! Look how far you’ve come! Reinforce that effort with the ongoing reward of fulfilling your goals.
I know that life is chaotic, that it can rip the rug right out from under you, and that genuine setbacks can occur.
But complacency is real, people.
There was a time when you had to concentrate on changing the way you think, observing and redirecting your natural thought patterns. There was a time when letting your distress rise and fall felt like torture. There was a time when your new communication strategies would get derailed at the roll of an eye.
But now, you don’t have to be as mindful. Those new ways of being are pretty much habit, so you don’t think about them as much. You’re a little less conscious here, a little less intentional there… until one day, all that mindfulness has run off, and you can’t be bothered to go find it.
If that happens, all I ask is that you don’t look at me perplexed when your progress stalls, and perhaps your old issues return. Please don’t be offended when I remind you (compassionately) that you’re accountable for the life you live–always.
My job is to deepen your therapeutic experience. I will challenge old behaviors when I see them, and I will be curious about their resurgence in your life. I will–with your help–uncover the aspects of these experiences we haven’t explored before.
And please know that after I see you, I’m thinking about what happened. I wonder about our interactions, my countertransference, and your response. I reflect on how to bring all of this information into the next session. I consider how to talk to you about my observations so that you have the chance to help me know you better.
Or to tell me I’m off my rocker…
Either way–it’s kind of like this… I said “kind of.”
Help me help you. And help yourself. That’s all I expect.