Swines, Revenge & Telephone Therapy – An Entry About Isolation

I’m a strict vegetarian. Or at least I used to be.
Now I’m not so sure. I went down with swine flue last Friday, and right now I’m seriously contemplating settling the score with the blasted pigs by eating as much pork as I possibly can.
You give me flu?? I eat you!
Forget Babe – I want revenge..

That said, I do feel better now. Even able to sit by my beloved computer again.

I was in complete isolation, stuck in my room, for seven (yes, 7!!) long days, and as much as I enjoy my own company, it’s not quite the same when you haven’t a choice in the matter. Especially when you’re too bloody weak to even hold a book to read, and too headachy to watch telly or listen to music to pass the time. Also it didn’t help that I was stressing out, knowing that I’d have to ask to have the deadline for the assignment I’ve been working on moved, since there’s no way I could have sut up for long enough to do it. I hate not being on schedule.

So, what did I do in my state of complete incapacity? Well, a clue is that I can now list all twenty-seven hairline cracks in the paint on my ceiling.. Information I never thought I’d have.

Apart from that I spent a reasonable amount of time on the phone. I’d lie down with the phone resting on my shoulder and just talk to anyone who happened to be home to answer the phone. (My poor friends and family have had to put up with enough crazy S-talk to last them a lifetime.. I’m surprised that they haven’t barred my number yet.) I also checked my email, Facebook and Twitter about every six and a half minutes.. Thank God (and Dev!) for my iPod Touch. Small mobile devices rock when you’re not able to sit up, I’m telling you.
Talk about a window to the world.

Was meant to see A. on Tuesday, but as I was in quarantine I obviously couldn’t go. Instead we had our session over the phone. A first for me, and – I’m guessing – possibly for A., too. It was ok, but also quite different to a normal session; like most people, my concept of telephone conversations is that both parties speak roughly the same amount (and in the case of my sisters both parties speak as much as the other, at the same time…).

This is not the case in a therapy situation. So, naturally, ‘translating’ a face-to-face session, with silences, interpretations and general thinking time, into a telephone call presents something of a challenge. Also, there’s the additional test of having to judge the other’s reaction purely by listening for slight changes in the voice at the other end of the line. Not quite as easy as it is in a face-to-face situation. Needless to say this changes the nature of the entire session. Whilst it’s difficult to not have the person’s subtle non-verbal response immediately available to you, it also, in some ways, makes things easier.

For example, I spent a good deal of time in this session talking about a chance meeting I had with D. (my former counsellor) the previous week. It was a pretty important thing to me, and so, in my head, it had been my plan to bring this up regardless, but – as I discovered – not being able to see A.’s little shifts made it both harder and easier to do so.

As a general I feel quite embarrassed talking about D. with A.; I worry that she will understand whatever I say as some sort of thinly veiled criticism, or as an indication that I wish she’d do things more like the way D. did, which isn’t actually the case. Now, in the consultation room I can judge by A.’s facial expression whether or not she seems to be getting this or not. Over the phone.. Well, those type of clues are taken away from you, and in essence you’re flying in the dark. With the consequence that you end up talking in a different way.

I’m glad I had the phone session with A. I think I needed it. Especially since A. was away for what would have been our Friday-session, and I wanted to talk about her going away before she actually went. But, with regards to some of the other things we talked about (including what I said about meeting with D.), I do feel that I’ll need to come back to it. To, in a sense, ensure that I was understood in the way I had meant.

So, my conclusion is this: phone sessions are good, since you might be able to say things you may have otherwise hesitated to say. But, equally, phone sessions can lead you to say more than what you would have been able to say in a normal session, and so any material brought up will likely need to be revisited and looked at again at a later time.

In short, face-to-face therapy feels more real.
And is scarier.

Much, much scarier.

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One response

  1. Pingback: Being Unwell And Feeling Cared For | What It Takes To Be Me

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