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Why I Am (Still) a Therapist — ( it has to do with the starfish)

Caribbean starfish

From Topyti on Flickr

Some people would say that doing therapy is a strange way to earn a living. In many ways, they would be right. For starters, even though I am an active, outdoors-loving type of person, I sit…in a chair…in an office (very nice, with a window, but still..)….all day. Any working time not spent with clients goes to tasks like charting notes, dealing with insurance companies , phone calls and scheduling,learning about things like HIPAA, attorneys and liability….the list goes on and on. That list is emphatically NOT why I am a therapist.

But the time spent with clients…ahh, now that is different. Through a combination of being a certain personality type, learning pertinent skills growing up (how are the people in the room really feeling?), lots of professional training, and years of experience, I have gotten to be pretty good at what I do. And thanks to the wonderful community of Simi Valley,I am blessed with a circle of professionals and others who think enough of me to refer their patients, parishioners, family and friends. These are the clients who come to me for help.

The time I spend with clients is a privilege and a blessing. Admittedly, there are times when we get nowhere, and if possible I’ll refer that person to a trusted colleague who might be a better match. But usually we make progress, hour by hour, week by week. Sometimes there’s a big dramatic breakthrough. Usually, it’s slow and steady.

To help a person heal their pain. To help a parent better understand their child. To mend a marriage , so that a family stays intact and grows stronger. To help an older person mend the fences they can and come to terms with what must be left undone. This is what I do all day, and it’s a privilege and an honor.

There is an old story about a woman walking along a beach covered with thousands of starfish washed ashore and dying on the sand. As she walked, she kept throwing as many as she could back into the ocean. To an observer, she didn’t seem to be making a dent in the situation, and so he asked her, “Why don’t you stop? You’re not making a difference,” as she bent over to pick up one more starfish, she said, “It makes a difference to this one.”

I get to make a difference for the people who entrust me with their problems. I give them my time, my training, my experience, and most of all my respect for their journey. I may not be wealthy, or famous, or be a guru who influences millions. But I get to help people learn to help themselves and their loved ones. The changes they make impact their lives, those of their children, maybe even their children’s children . It matters to them, a lot, and that makes all the difference I need. Making a difference, one person or family at a time…that’s why I’m a therapist.


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