Many people wonder how therapists manage to do the work they do. How can we sit in a chair week after week for hours on end, listening to other people’s pain and longing? What could possibly make it worthwhile?
Of the thousands of meaningful sessions that take place in a therapist’s office, certain ones stand out. They’re the ones that shake us to the core, experiences so powerful that years—sometimes decades—later, we still remember them.
Here, in a Networker Symposium highlight from our evening of storytelling, therapist Terry Real invites us to experience the moment that was most transformative in his own clinical work.
Most therapists will recognize transformative stories like Terry’s. Sometimes, a seemingly ordinary observation we make turns out to be revelatory to a client. At other times, we may hold our breath and take an enormous risk, having no clue whether it will fly or fail. Or something shattering happens to a client that allows him or her to seize life, rather than lose faith in it.
What’s clear to most clinicians, though, is that the work they do is breathtakingly intimate. We’re witnesses to the deepest nooks and crannies of human experience. We get to be present for the most vital stories of people’s lives.
Terry Real, LICSW, is an internationally recognized couples therapist, speaker, author, and founder of the Relational Life Institute (RLI). His latest bestseller is Us: How to Get Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship. He’s also the author of I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression (Scribner), the straight-talking How Can I Get Through to You? Reconnecting Men and Women, and The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Make Love Work.