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The Tissue

Therapy is a messy business. It is the exploration of dark alleys, the turning over of stones, the grappling with uncertainty. It is the discovery of what you always knew but didn't have the words to describe. The process of therapy asks us to make contact with more of ourselves. As we do, we often find ourselves in touch with a myriad of feelings - anger, sadness, joy - to name a few. The experience is painful at times but also beautiful as piece by piece we reclaim what we once let fall by the wayside. One of the ways in which our emotions often reveal themselves is in the form of tears. One would be hard pressed to find a therapist's office that did not contain a box of tissues, so assumed it is that tears will be shed. But what is the role of the therapist when this happens? To pass the tissues or allow the client to reach for them if desired? While it may seem like an act of kindness to offer a tissue to a crying client, does it not also convey a discomfort with the very messiness one is trying to invite in the consultation room? Perhaps this exemplifies the difference between gratification and presence. The therapist's role is not to spare the client of their experience but to accompany them in it. In fact, to spare or gratify, would in fact be to deprive the client of the very experience for which they entered therapy.


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