Friday, June 18, 2010

Accompanying a Client to the Psychologist

A client of mine who struggles with paranoia asked me a month ago to help him find a new psychologist. He wanted to find someone to talk to because he was feeling depressed. It was a big decision for him and he asked me to go with him to the first few sessions. I was able to put time aside and go to four appointments with him so far.
It's fascinating to observe the dynamic between the psychologist and my client: How they interact and the psychologist's impression of my client and how he's doing compared to my impressions. A simple example was during one session when I could tell my client was having a great day. He spoke positively about how things were going while the day before he was talking with me in anguish about a number of difficult situations he was going to need to deal with. But when the psychologist asked him how he was doing otherwise since they last met he didn't bring up what he talked with me about. With his permission the psychologist asked me for my impressions and I brought up one concern my client had and they discussed it.
These visits are giving me a tiny glimpse into the experience of getting therapy. Having the same phrases or ideas be repeated by the therapist is sometimes reassuring for me to listen to, to be honest.

I did catch myself thinking in the last visit that on some level it's easier for a psychologist, who sees a client once a week and only works with her on specific issues, than a case manager. As a case manager I meet with my client more regularly and work on a lot of aspects that include day to day concerns from health to finance to apartment issues. It's easier to focus on one aspect, I thought. I then reminded myself of the danger of observing what others do fairly superficially and deciding they have it easier.


jaybby04 said...

Wow, I came looking for a entry on this very topic.... My thoughts regarding the session are very similar to yours (3rd paragraph). I had the opportunity to sit in on a session with my client today.

While I'm commenting, since I never thought I would, I just want to thank you for this blog. It is very refreshing and reassuring for me being that I am a beginner. :0)

Anatolia said...

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Jaybby04. I'm definitely enjoying the opportunity to observe the psychologist/client dynamic.

In what type of setting do you do case management/social work?

jaybby04 said...

You're very welcome.
I work for a private owned mental health agency.

Seth said...

Is there any concern on your part or the part of the psychologist on how your presence affects the session?

I guess I'm wondering how you view your client's reticence to discuss certain issues until the psychologist brought you into the conversation. Any thoughts?

Gord Cummings RSW said...

I think the same frustration is true for group home workers who spend the most time with a client and then the case worker comes in less frequently and for short periods of time, and considering this it's amazing the difference in pay.