Today was my first two job day, where I work at Brenton’s in the morning and from home doing online counselling at night. Luckily I didn’t have much on for tonight as after the morning at Brenton’s I already felt like I’d done a whole day. and I only had two clients!
With one of the clients I noticed that while I was explaining some things to him he looked like he was attending; he’d nod and make minimal encouragers, but then as soon as I was done he launched into whatever he’d obviously been waiting the entire time for his chance to say.
It made me wonder about all the times that must have happened when the other party was less obvious about it. I’m wondering now if I spend too much time explaining the ideas behind things.
For example, when people have anxiety, I (and many other mental health workers I guess) find it helpful to explain how anxiety is an adaptive and helpful response:
I mean anxiety’s something that helps keep us alive… or it did, when we evolved it. When you’re about to do something that could be dangerous, anxiety prepares you for it. Only now that we’re no longer hunting, gathering cro-magnons and “dangerous” means “people will laugh at me,” as opposed to “a cave lion will eat me,” anxiety seems unhelpful. Our brains and bodies are still only evolved to the cro-magnon stage though; they haven’t caught up to the whole safe, modern society thing, and anxiety seems out of place and unhealthy.
Explaining all that normalises it and often changes a client’s perception from “ugh brain you so cray I hate you” to “wow thanks brain for trying so hard to keep me around, your heart’s in the right place I guess.” You know, if brains had hearts.
Only now I’m wondering if I take too long on it, or use too much jargon (though I doubt it, the above is pretty much the equivalent of what I’d say), or aren’t being clear enough, or just am really awful at longish speeches.
I guess another example of anxiety is catastrophising one single five second interaction with someone who didn’t even notice it and exaggerating it to my entire practice with the end conclusion being that I’m an utter failure and everyone’s about to realise it and shun me and I’ll die alone in the gutter.
Something to bring up in supervision.