One of the compulsory classes I recall vividly, was a demonstration of our competencies as a therapist. The fishbowl technique was used. Two trainees were placed in the middle of a circle. One was playing the role of the client and the other of the therapist.
And there I was, floating nervously, feeling exposed and vulnerable with no place to hide….I had to demonstrate whether I was worth the title of counsellor/therapist. After all, I was practicing as such for several years.
My “opponent”, my ally, was a peer who also was an actress. She was good and oozed confidence, which I lacked. Feeling intimidated and not encouraged by our eccentric professor who used to mock me by rewarding me a 97.5% for my work, leaving me puzzling what I possibly could have missed (ambiguity, Elisabeth…).
We started….I felt the eyes of my peers on me…all doctoral students in the clinical psychology program…I told myself that they too would get a turn in the fishbowl and was hoping that they would be kind. My heart beating fast, my voice too weak, and we started.
“My client” was in pain… and she talked…I listened, and it was about her. It was her pain…I can’t remember what I said, or what I did. I only remember that I connected with her and only her, oblivious to my surroundings.
Debriefing included feedback and my client said, you understood me and I felt safe. “Smooth” said our professor and that meant a lot to me. I experienced that deep connection…the core of being with someone which I perceive as a vital element to healing.
Isolation, loneliness, alienation, separatism, regardless of what words we use, the importance of feeling connected, safe, understood and heard is an integral part of our mental health.
We all seek it, many feel they had it, but the emptiness and the loneliness inside of us begs us to stop and feel…maybe it was never there? Maybe I don’t connect, maybe we do not know how?
How come people, social beings, who crave these connections fail to be with a person…. forgetting themselves for just a little while?
Person 1: How was your weekend, did you do anything special?
Person 2: It was great. Actually, I did something new, I did some sort of new yoga class at the studio on 13th.
Person 1: Oh that one, done that too, I have been doing it for years, if you think that was good, you should try..…
Person 1: How are you, haven’t seen you for a while?
Person 2: I am so-so…could be better.
Person 1: I am a great listener…If you ever want to talk…
Person 2: Thanks, well, I had a bit of an issue with a family member and I feel hurt (talks about the incident).
Person 1: Oh, I know exactly how you feel. That happens all the time. I am sure, they did not mean it. Don’t let it bother you.
Maybe we all have to be in that fishbowl for a while….but then again we might be too busy “networking”…..