A Therapist Redecorates


A Therapist Redecorates

By Lili Bernstein Goralnick

November/December 2019


I’d just experienced a painful loss and felt my whole world had collapsed. But even when my own skin didn’t feel safe, my therapist’s office was a refuge. In that room, reassured by her care and presence, I was beginning to feel, at times, that I might someday be okay again. Often the work of healing felt like doing something akin to yoga in an earthquake, but if my therapist stayed very, very still and ready to catch me, I thought, perhaps, I could get there.

Then, on one particularly rough day, when it was a struggle to even go to therapy, I was shocked to walk through the door and find her office completely redecorated. Without any prior notice, the space that had held me for so long, with its muted hues and comfortable furniture, had changed to such an extreme that I felt almost dizzy as I navigated the room. In what used to be open space between us, a new coffee table now seemed like a brick wall. The cushioned chair I’d sunk into week after week had been replaced by one without armrests, and I pictured myself collapsing off the edge into a heap on the floor.

I felt obligated to compliment her on the décor, but as a clinician, I was furious at the thought that she’d failed to warn other clients in vulnerable states about these disorienting changes. My tough side kicked in. Recalling all the times she’d observed…

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