Sometimes we take ourselves and our work too seriously. There is a real benefit when we are able to laugh at ourselves and hold things more lightly. Humor is about perspective. It’s about stepping aside and looking at a situation from a completely different point of view. Laughter cannot only heal us; it can teach us about ourselves as well.
Have you giggled at anything you did lately? Try it. Especially these days.
Many years ago, when I was in training to be a body-centered psychotherapist, I met my dear friend Joy, who was a fellow student and who would become one of the most important people of my life. Joy passed away two years ago this December and I write about her often because she was so dear to me and still is. Now you have a chance to meet her and me playing together. Because the training modules were so intense, we were allowed to do something fun and entertaining for the students on one Thursday evening to let off steam. Some people read poetry, danced or performed. Joy and I decided to do a skit on the worst therapy session ever. I just found a copy of the video that someone had recorded 25 years ago and I want to share it with you. Excuse the quality of the video. No I-phones back then, I’m afraid,
In order to make this skit hit home for the other students, we needed to actually roast all the things we had been learning. The night before the skit we were up all night laughing so hard, we couldn’t fall asleep. One of us would come up with something hilarious and audacious and crack the other up, then we would attempt to go back to sleep. Then the other one of us would come up with the next crazy thing. This went on all night. It was such a release of tension from the deep and demanding work we were doing. In order to be funny, we had to really understand the theories and techniques we were learning. Satire can be profound.
It is reminiscent of acting classes I would teach in which I would ask the performers to do their monologue in the worst way they could imagine. It was always hilarious in its exaggeration, and everyone learned something important from doing it that way. Often there were inspirational moments or breakthroughs that grew out of acting badly, their most awful rendition of their piece. Something always freed them up when the actors came at it this way.
Back to Joy and me and our skit. Setting the scene: Our training moved around to different states and this particular one was at a retreat center in Woodstock, Illinois. The grounds were beautiful, but there was a disproportionate number of geese that year, and hence gobs and gobs of goose droppings. You couldn’t walk anywhere without dodging the squishy landmines.
Before I share the video with you, I would like to go over some of the very important tenants we were taught in order to be good therapists.
- The session begins when you first make contact with your client, even upon opening the door. Pay attention to what they say, and what they are wearing. Metaphor lives in everything.
- As a therapist always do self-care. It’s like putting the oxygen mask on first on an airplane. The better you do self-care the more you can help your client.
- Pay attention to the client’s body language. What is their body saying to them and to the therapist?
- Always make sure you are listening to and attending to your own body during a session. Let your own energy flow freely.
- Approach your clients with listening hands when making contact with your client.
- Invite your client to repeat something important three times to give it more weight.
- Go fishing for clues about what might be going on in the moment.
- Make sure you are always self-aware of what a client may be triggering in you.
- Remember, everything that unfolds has potential for self-growth.
- Make sure you get paid at the time of service.
Now Enjoy the Worst Therapy Session Ever with me and my Joy.