As I’ve mentioned here about a thousand times, Glennon Doyle is one of my most favorite authors and speakers.
Glennon has said so many things that have resonated with me over the years and I love her new podcast, We Can Do Hard Things – I listen to every episode.
This weekend, I was listening to this episode where Glennon shares five things she wishes she knew during the early days of parenting her three kids.
One of her five things really stuck with me. She was talking about the urge caregivers often have to solve the problems of those we love.
Glennon said, as a mother, she felt a strong desire to shelter her children from experiencing any pain. When heartbreak or disappointment did occur, she would dive in to fix the problem for her children, or give them advice on how to get back on track.
However, in recent years, Glennon said she has shifted how she responds to her children’s struggles. Rather than fixing the problem, she now tries to “sit and look at the problem together.” This, she says, puts the focus on being a consultant rather than a savior.
The idea of sitting and looking at a problem together has stayed with me the last few days.
If I could describe the work of a therapist in one sentence, this might be how I would describe it – we sit and look at things together with our clients.
When I first started out as a therapist, I thought I needed to have all the answers for my clients. After grad school, my first job was working with chronically homeless adults in the Skid Row district of downtown Los Angeles.
I remember thinking, “My clients have lived on the streets for decades and they have lost contact with everyone they love. They’ve experienced pain and trauma beyond what I can even imagine. What in the world am I suppose to say to them that will help?”
My client’s problems seemed too big and my ability and experience seemed too small.
If I could go back to that time, I think I would tell myself to focus on sitting and looking at problems together with my clients.
Instead of giving advice or attempting to make sense of my client’s story for them, I might simply say something like:
How about you? Is there anything you would add to this list?
If you have any feedback or wisdom you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it.
Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
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