The Audition


The Audition

From Storytelling 2020

By Mark O'Connell

May/June 2020


Week after week, even though my client Naomi looked like she wanted to fire me, eviscerating me with her withering gaze, she kept coming back. It was distressing and bizarre, as if I’d been cast in the role of therapist by a director who hated my performance. Why is she doing this to us? I thought every time she took her position on the couch. I wanted to say, “I suppose you’re wondering why I forced you here today,” or sometimes just, “What?!?!” But I didn’t. While I’m neither snarky nor confrontational as a therapist, whoever I am clearly wasn’t enough for Naomi. And she showed up every week—for years—to make sure I realized that.

Like some scene in Groundhog Day, each session was a repeat of the last. She’d present a puzzle I couldn’t solve: something like, “No one will ever love me.” And however I’d respond—with humor, an interpretation, a reflection of her doubt, an identification with her despair, a deconstruction of her irrational beliefs—no matter what technique I used—CBT, EFT, LMNOP—even if I just listened quietly, her next line was always the same: “What am I supposed to do with that?!”

At times like this, when it feels like my clients are rejecting me—not just my efforts to help them, but me—I remind myself of what my acting teachers would tell us in drama…

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Topic: Parenting



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