I was struck by this card from PostSecret.
Sometimes I hear people say they aren’t inclined to talk to a therapist about their problems, because they’d rather talk to someone who “actually cares about them.” Two points:
1) Talking to your friends is always going to be limited by things you are embarrassed to tell your friends.
2) You may have underestimated just how bleeding-heart some of us are.
Granted, this medical transcriptionist is a lot more bleeding-heart than average (and maybe more than the patients want). But there are a lot of us out there.
Recently one of my chronically suicidal clients asked if I get sad when clients die. I was surprised that he even asked, but I checked my assumption that he knew I cared about him. I told him that yes, I get very sad and would be particularly sad if something happened to him. I didn’t tell him that I dream about my clients, that I lie awake worrying about them, that I pray for them despite not believing in God.
It had been on my mind anyway, because one of my former clients had died that week and I had indeed been very sad about it. I heard it was a heroin overdose.
Of course, there are people in the field that don’t care. The client who just died once told me that she was worried about her boyfriend because he was doing way too much heroin and the EMTs were getting tired of reviving him. She said they had offered him a Do Not Resuscitate letter, apparently hoping that they could just let him die next time he overdosed.
If you get to the point where you’re tired of helping people, you need to get the hell out of health care.
So yes, it’s possible you’ll get a burnt-out therapist who isn’t really listening and doesn’t really care. But it’s also possible you’ll get someone who cares way more than you believed possible.
A few days before Mother’s Day, I was in the lobby of the building where I had just taken my daughter to the pediatrician. She wasn’t gaining weight properly, and I was panicking despite the doctor’s reassurances. I huddled on a bench with her, trying to control my tears before we went out to catch our bus home. Dozens of people walked past me.
One of them, a woman in scrubs, came back a few minutes later and handed me this.
She was right. They did.