First Session: the therapist chair
Deep breath. In.
Slow breath out.
Please allow me to introduce myself for our first session.
My name is Margaret Rose Mauger and I am a Registered Counselling Therapist in the beautiful province of Nova Scotia. I work at my private practice, Mauger Counselling Therapy, where I provide counselling, support, education and advocacy.
Today was a good day. A young person I know will be able to go to a trauma recovery program for individuals who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. And, I had great conversations with clients about Post Traumatic Stress ‘Response’ (in place of ‘Disorder’) and Post Traumatic Growth. Today was a good day.
Prior to starting my private practice, I served as the Executive Director and Trauma Counselling Therapist at the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre. For over nine years, before I resigned, I worked with all genders ranging from age 13 to 86 from diverse backgrounds and cultures who have experienced sexualized violence and trauma. The personal stories and life experiences of individuals I have heard and witnessed during my time at the sexual assault centre were truly profound and unimaginable.
I am immensely grateful for the opportunity and ability to serve the clients I work with.
The counselling work I do, and the Chair I sit in, is truly an honor and privilege each and every day.
This is my first blog post. For a title I proudly thought the name First Session: the Therapist Chair seemed both appropriate and clever. Afterall, a first blog post should (I hesitate to use that word) be somewhat like a first session or an introduction at least. Maybe a little sense of who I am. Right?
So, why would I want to write a blog? My intention is to share stories and snippets from the lessons I have learned as both the therapist and the client sitting in/on the Therapist Chair. I hope to inspire the reader to look within themselves, connect with that quiet still part that sometimes seems lost, and exhale. Know you are not alone.
I will share stories, writings and photographs from my own personal experiences in the hopes that a reader may be able to relate, feel connected or maybe feel inspired to move to take action in some way in their life. What is something you can do today to make your life easier for you to be in? What is something you can do today to honor a part of you that may be neglected or forgotten or hurt?
Another reason I believe I feel compelled to write a blog is we are all social beings in addition to our personal self and we all need to feel connection or connected to others. Arguably, it is necessary for survival.
Back to talking about chairs (one client of mine would call me out on this poor transition), I had no idea there were so many types of chairs until I started thinking about it. There are armchairs, dentist, sofa, musical, electric, time-out, wing, slipper, Klismos, club and cub, rocking, recliner, office, wheel, folding, low back and high back, gaming, wood, leather, metal, tweed, barber and executive, director, ladderback, garden, antique and modern, and many more. There is also the Therapist Chair. The Chair I sit on in my office is a tweed sofa chair. The Chair my clients sit on is the matching tweed couch. It is the “hot seat” as some clients have called it.
During a first session with a client I typically gather information and history. Name, address, contact info, medications, other supports, limits to confidentiality and so on. Generally, a lot of questions are asked. One of the most important questions I ask is, “What are you currently dealing with that brought you here today?” This can be an incredibly difficult question for some clients to answer. Some clients are so overwhelmed with what they have going on in their world that they don’t know where to start. A few months ago I asked a male client, in his mid-forties, the question what brought him in to see me. “Can you turn your chair around please,” he replied. I have had this happen before. Only when I am not looking at someone, whether that be my chair is turned around not facing them or the person cuts off eye contact with me, is that person able to tell me why they are sitting in my office today. So many people carry this heavy sense of shame for what was done to them. And so many carry that weight every day. My job is to help a person lighten that load they bear. (I can imagine a certain client of mine cringing at my grammatical errors here).
A first session is when you start to build rapport. The therapist gains a sense of the areas where focus may be need to be directed and begins to get an idea of how to move forward. The client is able to get a “vibe” from you and they try to decide whether you are someone they want to talk to, work with and trust. Clients must feel safe and not judged. The first session is an introduction.
Before I finish our first session, I would like to add a little analogy – therapy or a therapist is like a chair – they help support you and hold you up.
There, made it through the first session, will you come back for a second?
Please let me know if you have any specific topics or questions you would like me to consider writing about from The Therapist Chair.
If you would like to learn more about my professional work and me please visit my website at www.maugetherapy.com
Thank you for your time.
2/13/2020 11:13:22 pm
I am very proud of you and your success.
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Sits as therapist and as client on The Therapist Chair.