On Tuesday morning something happened to Priscilla that’s never happened before. She received a call from the Administrator, Deborah, at the clinic where Priscilla has her psychiatric practice, requesting a “little chat” at the end of the day. . Priscilla had never been called into the Administrator’s office, until now, and she wondered why Deborah wished to speak to her. Normally Deborah would just e mail with whatever she needed.
Later, walking down the hallway to Deborah’s office, thoughts raced through Priscilla’s head. What is going on? Her eyes felt wet. She did not know if it was due to frustration, anger or agitation. For some reason a word popped into her head from the crossword puzzle Chester had worked on at breakfast that morning. The word was moil, meaning to moisten. How absurd to remember a crossword puzzle clue when she had more important issues on her mind.
I wonder why Deborah wants to speak to me? I know I’ve done nothing wrong. I am a good therapist. Maybe someone is out to get me? The ground under my feet feels uneven even though I know the floor is perfectly straight. My head feels as light as air. It can’t be me. This job is great and I don’t want to lose it. I know it’s not me that is the problem, right? Of course it’s not me.
In the weeks preceding their chat, the Administrator heard from a number of clients.
She heard comments such as: “She always wants to put me on more meds.” “She seems angry all the time – angry at me ?” “She doesn’t seriously consider what I say. She does not listen to me”.” When I mentioned my talking plant who tells me what to do, she did not believe me, did not even question me about a talking plant for Pete’s sake, she just simply said I was lying and that was the end of the subject.” “One day her anger seemed to be directed at her husband! I couldn’t believe she was bringing a personal issue into our therapy time. She mumbled something about paint …. it was almost the end of our hour so I just said see you next week and left.”
After the last client left Deborah mulled over what she had heard
I’ve never heard remarks like these before about a therapist. Oh sure, patients complain about incompatibility with the therapist and inconvenient appointment times.. But never this!! Why, listening is a cardinal rule for a therapist. For so many patients to mention similar issues – well – I’ve never heard of such a situation. It seems Priscilla does not use Challenging with the clients either. Challenging is not the same as confrontation; it is a reputable technique. And, my goodness, she does not even seem to regard the clients as people. Very worrisome
Deborah became very concerned after hearing these statements from the clients. She thought long and hard about what action to take. She’d known Priscilla for several years, though not very well. At their initial interview when she was hired, Priscilla had mentioned that she had some childhood issues. These problems were supposedly worked through in Priscilla’s own therapy. Deborah had been invited to Priscilla and Chester’s home only once, for a Christmas party. It was the first time she had met Chester, and she recalled somehow thinking that Chester was an odd duck. Though he is a successful lawyer and they do appear like a perfect couple. Their home was so pristine, spotlessly clean and scrupulously tidy. She had felt as if she needed a sweater to ward off a chill in the house yet the temperature was set high enough.
The lush carpet in Deborah’s office steadied her trembling feet and the quiet, end of day offices calmed Priscilla. She sat primly in the comfortable maroon chair in front of Deborah’s desk with hands folded in her lap, looking directly at Deborah.. Yet on the inside she imagined throwing Deborah off a cliff. In the discussion, Deborah explained that some clients had complained about Priscilla.
Priscilla defended herself saying she has been in practice many years, has worked a long time with the clients (though Deborah did not of course mention any names) and knew them better than they knew themselves. Priscilla honestly looked astonished at Deborah’s words. “Maybe the clients do not want to hear what I am telling them for their own good. And I can’t understand why the clients went over my head and complained to you.”
Deborah was not so sure Priscilla heard what she was saying. Deborah just wanted to clear a passageway, to make a path, to somehow connect with Priscilla. She was not sure Priscilla was really listening. The issue may merit further investigation, she decided. The meeting was terminated. Deeply troubled, Deborah tidied up her office, dusted off her snow globe of the Roman Coliseum on her desk, locked the office door and left for home, her thoughts all jumbled up in her head.
Written for Blogophlia
Blogophilia 46.3 Topic: “Clear a Passageway”
(Hard, 2pts): feature a talking plant
(Easy, 1pt): use the word “moil” (means to labor or toil)
“moil” can also mean to moisten
Links to earlier stories