Some days it is really hard to know what to say and what not to say. I had a patient today who had a lot to say. She had a need to talk, to get things out, and that certainly is one thing that people do in the therapist's office. Sometimes I feel a need to direçt that flow, or respond in some way, sometimes people sem to be needing that. Other times they seem to just need to hear themselves say things, to verbally process something, work it through, digest it out loud until it makes more sense than it did simply chading itself around inside their own heads. And sometimes it is important to do this with someone elao rather than alone, and in that case often my job is simply to be there and listen as a witness to the process .And sometimes, they just need to vent, and in that case, my job is just to sit and listen as well.
It was venting time today for my person. She didn't really need to process, and I don't think she needed a witness, or anyone to help her direct the flow, or make sense of things. I think she just had some things she wanted to say that maybe she really dodn't have anyplace to say. A lot of the thingss he things she had to say were really hard for me to hear, hard for me to simply sit quietly and listen to. Her beliefs are not mine, in fact her thoughts about life and the world and just about everything in it are about as far from mine as one could get. She told me about her political beliefs, her thoughts on immigration, her thuoghts on a friend's niece who converted to Islam She shared at some length her own Christian beliefs (fundamental, literal, creationist). I sat quietly, just listening. It was not what I wanted to do. But this is my role in this place. There were things I wanted to say, and in other situations, other roles might have said, but here the point was to let it be and let her talk.
Because in the end, after she was done with her venting she got to talking about her feelings, her sadness about too many losses, her fears about too much change (and some of those differences I had to wonder) And the only thing I really could say was "It sounds like this has been a hard few weeks, I am glad you could talk about it here."