Modern love – therapy style

October 14, 2008

Every now and then a learning opportunity presents itself that’s simply too compelling to ignore. Take this article from Saturday’s New York Times – Playing Role Reversal with my Therapist by Julianna Baggott. At first I thought it was a piece of fiction – but further exploration revealed this to be an actual story of how the writer ended up in therapy with her husband’s ex therapist. The therapist had read the writer’s work and recommends readings as part of her process.

And then, at the end of one session, he handed me a piece of folded paper and told me to read it later.
I assumed it was another literary pick-me-up. I read it in my car.
It was a poem.
A handwritten poem.
One he had written about me, for me.
Worse, this was no first draft. It was well crafted and made literary references — to my work. The poem included a divining rod, blue butterflies and a fairly lush description of my lips.
There seemed no away around it: this was a love poem.

It’s a car crash of a story and reinforces every prejudice you’ve ever had about therapy as self indulgent not to mention the ratio of dubious practitioners to ethical ones. The piece goes on to describe the writer’s ‘role reversal’ where she turns the tables (and other pieces of furniture by sitting in the therapist’s chair) to offer some of her own interpretation to the therapist…just go and read it for yourself…
I can’t wait to use this as material with my students back in Dublin ….

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