A psychologist’s holiday

So what does a psychologist do on her holiday? Taking on the theme from the previous post, when does the holiday begins and when does it end? Do we ever stop analysing the world around us, applying theories to others’ plight, processing the deeper meanings behind people’s words, making hypothesis of ones’ developmental journey etc… Do we ever let our mind rest? Or is it so ingrained and so part of our being that we just can’t stop! Well, to be honest, I can’t. Even more so during holidays! I tell myself I have so much more time on my hand and this is the time to put to practice what I have learnt to see if I have achieved any self development. To push myself that bit further, challenge my insecurities and boundaries.

I was at a dinner gathering few weeks ago, and a friend asked me – ‘would you refer on a client whom you think you can’t work with?’ and that question dumbfounded me for few seconds. That is a question that have been asked many times over in interviews or in social occasions, but somehow my answer changes every time. At first I would talk about which kind of clients I think I can’t work with due to my own personal issues with the matter they bring. But having recently read Yalom’s ‘Love Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy’, I wondered if there are truly anything that we can’t work with and whether it is a matter of us not wanting to work with it. Yalom found the idea of obesity repelled him, which he acknowledged at first instance but decided to take on the female client nonetheless. It is indeed admirable that he decided to challenge himself and understand more of his personal issues with obesity by learning from this client- empathising with her struggles and finally seeing the woman who desires to be loved like everyone else working hard towards achieving this goal. His own issues with obesity also helped the client to understand how others are perceiving her which highlights for me the the notion of bringing one self into the consulting room.

It is this torn between being me and being an understanding therapist that I have struggled with. Unconditional Positive Regard (Rogers, 1961) can be offered at first instance, but sometimes it does not come as easily as one thinks. Nonetheless, I believe we are equipped to delve deeper on why that is not the case with some clients.

Hm.. someone remind me I’m on holiday again please.


Some of the books I have referenced here are:

1. Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Yalom, I.D. (1991)

2. On Becoming a Person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. by Rogers, C.R. (1961)

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