I recently decided that I would like to speak with a therapist to work through a few nagging but not critical issues. I did what we all do when we need to find a good place to buy shoes or to eat: I polled friends.
One recommended someone he liked who had a conveniently located office, so I decided to give her a try. I went for the first session with the feeling I have on a blind date: hope, anticipation, and trepidation. Would we hit it off? Be a good match?
I sat at attention on the edge of the couch in the empty waiting room, hands folded in my lap. I had arrived early (yes, this will be a huge surprise to those who know me) and watched as the minutes ticked past our appointed appointment time. Maybe her session before me was running over; she will just add the time on at the end, I reasoned.
She emerged five minutes late (and at the prices therapists charge for 50 minutes, that was an expensive 10 percent of my time) with no explanation, apology, or prior client.
I sat on the edge of her couch as she settled in to a matching beige ultra suede Barco lounger and pushed it back fully to recline. I looked around the room as we began to talk. It was cozy but a bit unkempt for a therapist’s office. I’m sure the fact that I expect a therapist to be punctual and tidy reflect my own idiosyncrasies, but there you have it.
She lay back so far that all I could see were her boots, which resembled large bear paws. I had to strain to see around them to her as we spoke, but that proved pointless because she spent most of the session focusing on some serious and clearly stubborn issues she was struggling with, with her cuticles.
I felt, for the most part, that she understood my concerns, until I explained that I might prefer to see her biweekly instead of weekly because I wasn’t sure if insurance would cover our sessions and even if they did, with a $6000 deductible I’d be largely covering them myself anyway. I did not feel that my concerns were urgent – just persistent.
“Oh, no,” she said, pretty much completely dismissing my financial concerns. “We need to get traction. You’ll need to come every week, if not more often.” Wait, what?
I thanked her after we’d made an appointment for the next week (without an additional five minutes at the end of our session) and left. I will give it a few more meetings before I decide if this makes sense for me, I thought. But, like with a bad first date, part of me wondered why.
I consulted with my BFF and my sister, who, after they guffawed, said, “No way. Don’t go back.” And with their dispensation, and confirmation of the gut feeling I ought to have trusted, I called her and broke up with her. Or her machine, anyway.
She did not call back for three days. I took the silence as acceptance, and was relieved not to hear from her in a way. But on day three she left a message for me.
“I’m surprised that you have decided not to continue with therapy at this time.” With no questions about why and clear directions of where to send the check.
I called another therapist that a different friend had recommended. She called back right away.
“It sounds like you need to just reframe some of your reactions to these issues,” she said. Yes! She got it!
So we have our first date this week. I am hoping that she’s the one. Or at least that she’s on time.