Lots of the time, I don’t get to see concrete results of what I do. When I see my personal trainer, it’s all about the results. We create baselines and track progress. I am accountable to the goals and expected to reflect on them occasionally. It’s very structured.
Psychotherapy can have the same sort of structure. People who come to me with what we might call smaller or more compartmentalized sorts of problems need that structure to keep on track and be efficient about the work. I’m alright with that.
However, for the bigger things, the life change things, the HUGE stuff, it’s different. The process I engage in with my clients is one of gentle inquiry around and non-judgmental holding of their pain. The healing happens in unpredictable ways and we don’t push for results because most of the time, the shame that engenders in the client is as damaging as the original harms. The improvement is gradual and felt in ways they may never share with me. I’m alright with that too.
Then there are sometimes where I unexpectedly see, through some other avenue, the concrete results of a long term process. It may be a letter the client writes to me unsolicited. It may be seeing the client in another forum, just by chance. It may be hearing about stuff through a grapevine. Small town living is like that sometimes.
Although I would never say a word to anyone, never jump up and down and say “Hey! I helped with that!”, it’s how I feel inside. The achievement isn’t mine, not in the least. What has happened is I have been allowed to participate in something powerful and good in the world. I have to say, it’s totally awesome.