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|Screenworld - Page 12|
And the furniture of the consulting room, how it looms, has to be dealt with and worked around! Dr. L, behind his imposing, dark-wood desk, and me, a teenager, not quite knowing how to sit in that big, plush, real-leather chair. Dr. T, behind a less formal desk; he liked his office dark and shadowy, small and spare, large, clear-glass ashtrays always to hand, the room filling up with our smoke, which seemed the smoke of us burning through my past. Dr. K, who didn't have a desk, his chair facing mine in a small and bright—though not uncomfortably bright—space. In M's consulting room, I sat on a sofa. I don't like to sit on sofas; I like hard chairs. Her sofa was something to deal with. N's pleasantly dim room was cluttered with interesting objects and oddly titled books by authors I'd never heard of.
Each tactile, visual environment expressed the therapist's tone and approach, so that the client was surrounded by an intentional (so I've always supposed) expression of the therapist's psyche. The face-to-face environments were full of things to be dealt with, not the least of which was my therapist's eyes, never unkind (in my experience, anyway), always asking that I go a little further, dig a little deeper—an expectation rare in any world, especially Screenworld.
Psychotherapy is many techniques and theories that combine into an evocative art, uniquely expressed in every consulting room, not (to the bane of the insurance people) easily defined or quantifiable. It's a face-to-face, you-to-me effort toward nuanced understanding—far away, though only steps away, from a soundbite Screenworld, where understanding is subsumed by spectacle.