The comfort of a voice

October 14, 2012

Have you ever worked with a therapist?

I did, for many years, maybe the smartest thing I ever did.

She wasn’t the first I’d ever seen, either. Finding a good therapist is kind of like buying a pig in a poke–you don’t know what you’re getting until you’ve invested time, energy and heart in it. It’s disheartening to find it isn’t a fit and you’re disinclined to start again.

Sound familiar?

But I kept looking.

Fortunately, I finally found a woman who was a good match for me. About 10 years older than I, she was direct, matter-of-fact and super-professional. I got a lot out of the years I spent talking with her. After I was done, I’d drop in for a tune-up every few years. To run something by her. Well, more accurately, to run something through the process.

She retired, and then we’d have coffee or lunch once in a while; not to talk therapy but to talk about life. The transition wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.

  It’s been a while since then, but we talked recently and her familiar voice on the other end of the telephone evoked those hours I spent in her office back in the 1990s. I can still see what she wore, and recall our interactions, the tears and even our laughter.

I was surprised at how much of a comfort the sound of her voice was and how it brought me back to those mid-career days, just six or seven years into my time in California. And then I thought about the ages we are now. I was barely 40 when I first saw her, she in her 50s, and we’re so much further down the road now.

Therapy is a good thing, in my book, but it’s hard to convince some people of that, usually the people who need it most. So many people would rather struggle along, never handling the tough issues in their lives, when help is just a phone call away.

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