"She cares, but not too much" - Dealing with emotions

client and therapist Dec 04, 2020

‘I like your mum. She cares, but not too much’ I did care and probably too much. Instinctively, I must have realised that my strong urge to adopt, at least in the short term, one of my daughters friends and make her stay in bed, watching Netflix whilst I fed her soup and Quality Street, was a plan that would not be well received. This, at the time, about 13 year old, was facing events that were challenging the adults in her life and that would have floored most of us. She was in a very dark place. I cared a lot. The only part of the plan communicated was ‘Hey – how are you doing? Ok What about your dad? Is his treatment going well? Ok And your mum? She is changing her job so that she can earn more money. If there is anything you need, you know where I am. You are always welcome at ours. Same for your mum and dad. Ok.’

I was reminded of this complement from years ago when my daughter used the same phrase to describe how a teacher was helping one of her pupil colleagues ‘I like Mr Curtis (real name, shout out to Mr C). He cares, but not too much.’

We were filming later that week. A whole day of interviewing cancer patients about the side-effects of treatment for cancer. It was harrowing. I didn’t react to the information shared. I did my job and asked questions, listening to the answers. I dealt with my own feelings about them. I didn’t expect, or want, the cancer patients to use their energy to deal with my feelings. This, I find, is immensely useful learning for many of the therapists we teach to work with those affected by cancer. More and more often, I find myself advising that people are not telling us their story to hear our opinion on it. Or to take our advice. Nor do they wish to have to deal with our reaction to their news. One of the lovely ladies we interviewed described her lower energy levels. She knows she has a reduced amount of energy and she decides how to use it – she can take the kids to school, or she can make them dinner. At the moment, she can’t do both. It is the same for many.

If a therapist is openly emotional in response to a clients consultation, their story, their scars, their hair loss, the client has to expend energy acknowledging, consoling, discussing, expanding or reassuring. I am proud to say that Jennifer Young trained therapists are often complemented on the way in which they gather information, respond to it and use it during the consultation process. It makes a big difference to the client and it makes our therapists more effective. We care, but, at least on the face of it, not too much. If you would like to know about ways in which you can help those affected by cancer, whilst looking after yourself, please get in touch. Therapist care (physical and emotional) is covered as standard on all of our accredited qualifications.


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