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  September 2, 2002

Therapist Avoidance

In contrast to establishment therapists, primal therapists are well known for taking responsibility for their own healing process. This does not mean that all primal therapists are equal in that regard. It is easy, when we become fairly functional, to avoid our own issues by focusing on the issues of our clients.

This focus can often eclipse therapists' motivation to work on their own issues. They can be seduced into the role of fixer/helper and avoid their own problems by focusing on the problems of others.

In life, we often discover our own problems by being confronted by close friends or family members who are being personally affected by our behaviour. If, for some reason, a therapist does not have that type of open and honest feedback, and are also too absorbed in their client's lives, they are in danger of losing track of their own process. Like gurus surrounded by "yes" people and devotees, they have no realistic mirror to their own condition. When this happens, it may be the criticism of a client that wakes the therapist up - and starts the therapist's process moving again.

As with any complaint, whether it's from a client, a friend, or my life partner, I attempt to look at all sides of the issue. I consider the present aspects of the complaint, the possible projections of the complainant, and more importantly, at the possible origins of my own feelings. In that regard, if necessary, I "take it to the mat" and do a primal session on my own time.

When a client complains, it is essential that therapists look at all possibilities. Client complaints can be a diversion, and it may be appropriate to stay with their process by asking what the feeling behind the complaint is. But therapists must always have the humility borne of inner confidence that allows them to consider that the client could be right. Wisdom and clarity are not the sole domain of any one person.

For a therapist to consider an error or to apologize and admit a mistake can be, in itself, an important healing process for clients whose inner confidence has been eroded by parents and authority figures who always had to be "right." More importantly, these moments are golden opportunities to look inside and continue growing. Better than that, they confirm that we are all in this life - and this process - together.

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