Posted by: Marie | September 7, 2010

(395) Introducing Edward

Post #395
[Private journal entry written on Monday, March 15, 2010 – afternoon]

And, this afternoon, I interviewed the other male prospective therapist . . . Edward.

He uses an approach called “integrative psychotherapy”. I had not heard of that approach until I started this interview process, but I really like the idea it addresses all parts of the person . . . the mind (cognitive), the actions (behavior), the body (physiology) and the heart (emotion).

Of all the approaches I have read about, this one interests me the most – it is holistic in nature.

The only contact I have had with Edward is via email. His emails have been very professional and encouraging . . . salutations, full sentences, appreciation for the opportunity to meet me . . . and he always signs off with, “Warmly, Edward”. His communication is full of “warm fuzzies”.

I’m not sure what to make of that. At first, it felt very nice – I could see he was making the extra effort to let me know he really cares about people and to demonstrate consistent responsiveness.

But, after four email exchanges like that – ironing out the interview logistics and sending my biographical information required that many exchanges – it was starting to feel overdone to me.

It felt like he was almost trying too hard. I started feeling a bit smothered and crowded.

But, when I read back over his emails in preparation for the interview, I could see his words were not smothering . . . they were kind and supportive. For example, in one email he wrote, ” I appreciate the seriousness and regard you have for your healing journey and this counseling process.”

Maybe I’m feeling smothered because I’m not used to that level of support and kindness from a man. Maybe it would serve me well to learn to be okay with that much encouragement. Hmmmmm . .

Anyway, his practice is in an historic house . . . the kind of square, old house that can be found in old Brooklyn-style movies. The hallways are narrow and the floors creak, and it has that timeless grace of an era gone by.

I love old houses. And, I really love this old house.

There are a handful of therapists with practices in this house. Edward’s office is upstairs, in the back.

When he came down the stairs and into the living room waiting area to greet me, I was taken by surprise.

I’m not sure what I was expecting for a first impression, but he didn’t match it, whatever it was. He seemed soft-spoken, passive, even tentative.

He has a slight build – accented by his casual sports outfit (like he just got off his bicycle) – with a timid voice to match. His creative energy is diffused . . . the creative energy of an artisan (see illustration). Artisan energy is not very grounded or structured – and that tends to frustrate me.

Artisan characteristics often include:

– Operate in a way that allows them to do things in ways no one else has ever done them

– Protect their freedom by carefully considering all options and reserving commitment before engaging in a project

– In private environments, enhance and modify the things they acquire to reflect a personal sense of style and uniqueness

– Dress in a way that always has a degree of uniqueness of expression, often accentuating with color and accessories to be cute or sophisticated

– Express multiple personae and ways of operating, adapting to the situation at hand

– Resistance to and frustration with being labeled with any classification

My first thought was, “If I really turned loose with strong emotion in a session, I’d just blow him away . . . there is no way this man can handle what I have lurking under the surface!”

But . . . I figured I’d give him a chance.

'Artisan' creative energy

We journeyed up the well worn stair case and entered his sunny utilitarian office with its window-lined walls and unobstructed views of the outdoors. We settled into the black leather furniture. I sat on the couch and he slid into his chair. He sat Indian-style with his shoeless, wool-sock clad feet illustrating his Boulder-esque personal style.

(Boulder-esque = having characteristics of people who live in the town of Boulder, Colorado – characteristics include, but are not limited to, inclination toward new age beliefs, commitment to living green, tendency to dress in only natural fibers, very mellow affect, affinity toward crystals and raw food, ability to easily relate to the 1960’s hippie lifestyle, etc.)

We had scheduled only a 30-minute interview, so I skipped over many of the questions. For the questions I did ask, he provided fuzzy answers . . . generic, feel good answers. I was not impressed. I had to really work to give him a fair chance – I really wanted to just cut out and move on. But, I stayed for the entire 30 minutes with him.

When we came the question about having my experiences recorded in my blog, he said that would be no problem at all. He asked if he would be able to read my blog . . . I said that would be fine . . . I asked if, in fact, he wanted the address of the blog now.

“Oh, yes! I would appreciate having that! I thought about trying to find your blog through a search, but I decided I should ask you first for permission before I went looking for it. So, I waited.”

I thought, “Oh, this guy understands and honors organic boundaries! What a concept!”

When we came to the question about his fees, he said his fee is normally $100 but he is willing to drop it to $80 if there is a financial need. I asked if he would be okay with me coming every fours weeks since my budget only allows $20/week to go towards therapy.

He said, “How about if I meet you halfway . . . I’ll drop my fee to $75 if you will come every three weeks.”

That sounds like a deal! I know I could come up with another $22/month if I cut out some of my more wasteful habits like soda and ice cream . . .

At the end of the interview, I asked him if he was inclined to want to work with me. He responded affirmatively. I then asked if he had any questions. At this point in the interview, all of the other interviewees have said, “No”.

But he said, “Yes, I do . . . ”

He asked if I wanted to work with him. I stumbled a bit; then I came out with the truth, “Well, actually, I’m thinking not.”

“Why not?”

“I tend to be a very structured and focused person. My experience of you is you tend to be um, well, your energy tends to be ethereal and free flowing. I think I would be frustrated by our differences.”

“What do you mean by ethereal?”

“Not grounded – not structured.”

“Disjointed?”

“Yes . . . actually, that is a very good word to describe what I’m trying to say.”

“The feedback I get from others is that I am very grounded, organized and process oriented. For example, my earlier professional experience included telecommunication systems engineering.”

“I guess I just haven’t seen evidence of that part of you.”

“Ah . . . I can see I have made a mistake. Based upon what I read in your biographical summary, I thought you would be in a fragile and tentative state. I have been trying to be very gentle with you – I have been trying to not come at you very directly. I can now see you actually need a very direct and focused approach.”

At that point in the conversation, something happened with his energy – within a second or two, his energy went from being diffused to being very focused and intense. I couldn’t see any visible changes, but his intangible energy shifted dramatically.

And it felt very good to me.

We talked for another five minutes about his background and his approach . . . the very intense energy continued for that entire time. I got the sense I was experiencing him in a fully integrated state – and, his energy felt grounded to me. The energy coming from him was very, very solid – rock solid from core to surface.

I left with a buzz from it.

So . . . I’m not sure what to make of all this. I am intrigued, but I don’t understand what happened at the end.

Should I make my decision based upon what I experienced the first 30 minutes, or based upon what I experienced the last five?

I’ll have to think about this one. He is so very different from the other therapists . . . I’m not sure what to think of him.


Responses

  1. Team Edward!!

    • LOL!

  2. I had a feeling he’d be the other very interesting candidate. :-)

    • Hey, David –

      You seem to have a very good “nose” when it comes to figuring out people!

  3. He sounds like an interesting guy. I very much like the sound of integrative psychotherapy (declaration of interest: in this blogger’s, not so, humble opinion CBT is occasionally useful and always superficial. To, try to, be fair it probably is a quite safe form of therapy – even if it is about becoming better neurotics. End of rant.)

    • Hey, Evan –

      I agree there seems to be specific uses for CBT . . . for example, if, after we dealt with the emotional issues underlying my destructive habits (skin picking, binge eating, etc.) and if I still found myself stuck in the habit of doing those behaviors just because I don’t know a better method of stress release, I can see where CBT could be helpful.

      – Marie

      • And I think it is useful for phobias, and my friend cured his insomnia (which he’d had for about 15 years with that kind of approach), so I do think it has its uses.

  4. Well, first of all, do you HAVE to put all your eggs in one basket and just decide without even some sessions logged, who you are going to take on long-term?

    Seems like a kind of black and white approach you’ve taken here. I really like the trial interview, but if you are left with questions and still interested in exploring…then shell out the money and have another session with him! :)

    This isn’t marriage. It’s therapy. You can have one or two sessions with different people, it’s not cheating. You’re trying to make a good decision for yourself.

    I know money is an issue but it seems a bit counterproductive to force yourself to make a decision about this guy based on the fact that you had two very different experiences of him in the one session. I’d say it sounds promising, but you shouldn’t be making a decision either way.

    And even if you do ultimately choose him or someone else, you’re always free to stop seeing that therapist and start up with one of the other candidates.

    • Ooooo . . . great point, Aaron!

      I actually had this conversation with myself along the way . . . I felt pressure to get it right the first time because of money limitations, but I did keep reminding myself that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I had to start over with a fourth therapist . . . at least I had already done the homework and knew I had a few good choices. All I would have to do is pick up the phone and start a relationship with a new therapist.

      – Marie


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