This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write a love letter to the people I spend most of my time with, my clients. As I approach the one-year mark of my (virtual) solo psychotherapy private practice business, I have been reflecting on what my clients mean to me, and what they add to my life. So within the limits of confidentiality and without further ado, here are my words of appreciation.
To My Clients (all 38 of you):
You are young. A few of you are in your teens or your forties, but most of you are in your twenties and thirties—my peers. Most of you are queer, some of you are not. Majority of you grew up in the south and have religious trauma. Some of you are grieving, some of you are debilitated by shame and feelings of inadequacy, most of you are traumatized, all of you are hurting. Some of you don’t yet understand your own barriers, while others come aware of your own blind spots. Ninety percent of you have jobs, over half of that ninety percent of you hate your jobs. Some of you don’t think you can afford to do every week so can we go down to every other week? Some of you ask to be seen more than once a week—things are really hard.
Somehow you all came to the path of finding me–probably through Psychology Today. You emailed me, I emailed you back, we talked on the phone, and now we are a regular part of each others’ lives. You come to me to process, to heal, to understand, to change. I do my best to listen attentively, offer feedback and use various clinical interventions to meet your needs. What you may not realize is what you do for me.
Thank you for combating my imposter syndrome by showing up for your hour with me week after week. I “hang up” from our virtual sessions feeling helpful some weeks, and like I dropped the ball on others. Your continued trust in me each week sends the message that I am doing something right.
Thank you for your generous vulnerability with me. Thanks for not thinking the small things are too trivial. I do want to hear about your friend’s bachelorette party that caused you to reschedule our last session. I wonder between sessions how your hard conversation with your boss is going and truly look forward to the update. And no, it doesn’t bore me to hear the elaborate backstory of a precursory fight with your partner that helps explain the current conflict.
Thank you for going to deeply painful places with me—places every square inch of your body and mind would prefer to avoid. Thank you for being brave enough to face your traumas even if it means I see you ugly cry. I truly am here with you in those moments feeling your sorrow. It’s an honor to be let in in that way.
Thanks for telling your friends and your partners about the insights I offered you in sessions. This brings me a sense of appreciation I could only hope for when I picked this profession. Thank you for letting me show up as me, dressed casually, starting my emails with “hey” instead of “hi” or “hello.” Thanks for telling me your last therapist was too old and judgmental—this comforts me when I am insecure about being so close in age to you.
You make it worth the early mornings and late evenings. You get me out of my head when I’m going through my own problems in life. You amaze me with your resilience. As confessionsofabanshee said in her 2016 essay, What It Really Means to be a Social Worker, “social work means getting to fully experience the vast richness and the strange, exquisite beauty found in the rawest parts of our human condition.” Thank you for letting me witness that beauty.