I sat there one-on-one with a client in what was supposed to be a group session. However, it was…
I sat directly across from a brand new client on a comfy swivel couch. Working only one night a week at this substance use program put me at a grave disadvantage in meeting clients. I never spoke to this woman before in my life. Luckily, my supervisor filled me in on her background prior, so this poor woman did not have to re-share her entire story.
She sat there visibly frustrated. I may or may not have arrived ten minutes late, leaving this poor woman to sit in her car waiting for me 😬. After addressing the elephant in the room, the flood gates opened. She was more so generally frustrated with her feelings and a situation at her sober living. It was initially being projected towards me being an easy target at that moment. For the next hour, I sat back, took it all in, and provided validation.
This client described being found in the streets by her son’s best friend, her recent relapse, losing her husband to an overdose, her relationship with her estranged sister, losing her good friend to cancer three weeks ago, and sober living drama. As much as she jumped all over, I kept up and looked for my over arching themes. She obviously felt overwhelmed and rightfully so. In addition, this was likely the first time in years that she felt her feelings. She numbed herself for many years through caretaking and her addiction, and finally she got hit by a tsunami of emotion.
I pointed this out to her and how much loss she has yet to grieve. I asked her about a loss she previously handled. This client brought up grieving her resentment and anger towards her estranged sister. After explaining the situation leading up to it, she brought up speaking to her sponsor. She repeated the mantra her sponsor gave her:
I loved it as soon as I heard it. It is short, sweet, and to the point. It can be easily remembered. It keeps your expectations in check. It keeps you in tune with yourself. It tells you to be flexible and adjust accordingly. I helped the client think of ways to apply this mantra to her current situation and in handling her substantial loss. She said it helped her before, and I thought sharing it might help someone else as well.
-The Caring Counselor