Dr. Debra Campbell, author of Lovelands, recently visited The Refreshed Therapist Book Club to discuss the story of her book, and to contribute her insights into living life as a psychotherapist. In Lovelands, Dr. Campbell courageously and skillfully shares stories from her life, including how her identities as a woman, wife, mother, and psychologist have influenced and enhanced her work with clients.
In this post, I am including a brief video clip of the interview, during which Dr. Campbell discusses what therapists can do when they find themselves "out of flow" with their work.
Read the transcript below, or view the video at the bottom of this page.
What can you offer therapists who maybe find themselves a bit disappointed with their work, or challenged by emotional burdens, or what-have-you. Something's off--not working, and not feeling "flowy?"
Hmm... There's always days like that. Not even whole days, even.
When You Are Out Of Flow With A Client
There's always those clients, or those patients, where you feel: Oh, I don't get them, or they don't get me. We're just not, we're not meeting in the way I would have hoped. We're not feeling each other. And then, I fall out of flow when that happens. It doesn't happen that often, but there are some that come and go.
What I do is, I really turn back and listen into myself and say: What's our human commonality, you know? And, I try to keep focusing on that. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to find a sense of meaning and purpose. So, let me just listen in to what I'm hearing from them about the clues, the hints, about those big issues. Because, if I can't grasp onto their smaller, more specific stuff that they've come for, at least maybe I can get a hook on to one of those bigger overarching kind of places and find a way in from there.
I also do look for the images that are coming to me, because they might give me a clue of how to connect and how to get back into flow with this person.
So, that's specifically about the person.
How Flow Relates to Your Habits and Schedule
In my own life, I need to give myself time to write. I need to give myself time to do all the things that I enjoy. So, I can't work too much.
I think our work is so important, so intense. Someone just said to me yesterday: "My goodness! We got so much done in 50 minutes. I can't believe how much we talked about, and how much my mind kind of felt like it was expanding in 50 little minutes."
And I said: "I know. That was a lot of things." You know, there were practical skills we did. We did some breathing. We talked about real skills in social anxiety, relief in social situations. And then, we went back and talked about past trauma that we had talked about in previous sessions, and how to talk about how she was going with the processing of that. How what she had written down about
her processing, in a narrative therapy kind of sense, that she had to share with me. And, we went through the insights from that little bit of writing she'd done.
So, all this was packed into 50 little minutes, and I think her head was spinning a little bit.
So, we work so hard that I think we we need to watch how many hours we work. And, of course, there's practical issues. But, if we can make sure we get to supervision, or where we can talk with other therapists, it's incredibly supportive. It's vital, really; it's absolutely vital.
And, not be too intensively packed in our schedule with one-to-ones. I think you've got to have a breath, and you know what you can handle after a while, once you've experimented. You know how many in a row you can handle after a while. Be very mindful of your load.
How to Pinpoint Problems With Flow
The way that you present it, I appreciate the fact that it's local, but then also large. So, the idea of why am I out of flow with this person? Or, even taking it somewhere else: Why am I out of flow with this activity, or with this situation, or in my relationship with a thing, rather than a person? Or, maybe it is larger: Am I out of flow in an area, you know? And, what does that look like? So, I appreciate that about the book and just your your tips--that it can be really specific. Sometimes we make something global, and there's no need to do that; it's really about this area, this thing, or this person.
The Refreshed Therapist Book Club is open for April enrollment, through April 3rd. Find details on our April read, and join us!
Let me know in the comments below:
- What tip from Dr. Campbell was helpful to you?