Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Chance Encounter

When I parted ways with my therapist Kathryn last year, I knew there might be a time in the future when we would run into each other. After all, it’s not such a big city and we do have some common acquaintances.

But as I stood up to sing Ma Tovu at this morning’s Torah service and looked out at the congregation, I was totally unprepared to see none other than Kathryn front and center. I surmised that the balding guy with the funny reading glasses to her right was her husband Richard. She didn’t make eye contact, but I was fairly sure she had recognized me, too.

Kathryn had provided much-needed help over the course of 6 months or so last year. I had complained bitterly about her propensity to bury her head in a notebook thereby avoiding eye contact, to the point that she eventually did away with the notebook. I balked at her insistence on paying for a weekly appointment, even when you were on vacation. I hated her hugless policy which didn’t permit even a handshake at the end of the session. But despite her tendency to go by the book, she was of enormous help to me and we ended our therapy relationship on a positive note.

As I observed her in the congregation this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why is she here? Does she know the Bar Mitzvah family? Will she shake my hand? Should I introduce her to my husband? Should our former relationship be a secret? She actually looked a little sad, a little older, and she seemed disconnected from the service, not being a Jew although she is married to one.

After the service concluded, I approached her to be greeted by a big smile and a sincere handshake. She seemed just like any other long-lost friend.

I did mention my strange encounter to our rabbi Toby who had a good laugh over it, commenting that you can never be too sure who you’re going to run into on a Saturday morning.


Anonymous KassyK said...

How interesting...I always wonder if I will see my therapist out and about in the city esp since our sessions (about 10 months for OCD) are almost over...
I am so glad it went wellfor you bc I can imagine how bizarre it must have been.

I think its always strange to see our drs, therapists, etc out.

Great post.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kassy -- Good luck with the OCD. I have watched one of my children struggle with this disease and I know it can be difficult.

What I've finally come to realize is that all of my "healers" are people just like me. The boundaries they are forced to create and maintain sometimes make it difficult to remember this. It's nice to find out that when treatment is over, the boundary comes down and the handshake is real.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Glad it wasn't an awkward encounter. Sorry I did not get to meet her.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I seem to remember that it ws only because your plan wouldn't cover any more visits, so I wouldn't have thought you'd feel awkward. She probably is just a more non-touchy professional.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

David -- I'm sorry you didn't get a chance to meet Kathryn. You would like her a lot.

MOI -- No, this one had nothing to do with my plan. We both just concluded that I had accomplished what I needed to in therapy. Kathryn behaved as just about any good therapist would in terms of personal contact. For me it would be hard to maintain that boundary after I had gotten to know someone so well, but it is really necessary to keep personal feelings out of the therapeutic relationship.

5:49 PM  

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