The other client.

Other clients. Ugh.

Does anyone like to acknowledge their existence?

Towards the end of my session ; maybe ten minutes before the end, Sienna’s phone started vibrating on the desk. Clearly she’d forgot to put it on silent. She ignored it, but it kind of distracted me whilst I was in mid-flow about something quite painful. I felt a bit like…. “are you going to get that?” But she acted like she couldn’t hear it and eventually it stopped.

And then it started up again just as I was getting ready to leave. This persistant (or insistent?) vibrating. It sounded like an angry bee! She grabbed her phone as we walked out her office and when we walked out into the foyer, there was the source of the buzzing Β phone. This girl/woman standing there, all tall and slim and pretty with smart business clothes on, holding her phone to her ear. She saw Sienna and started walking towards her and saying really loudly in that super confident way ” Oh hi! I was just phoning you… blah blah blah…”

I didn’t hear anything else, I was too busy walking ahead, feeling awkward as hell. I hate seeing other clients. I mean it’s okay if it’s very in the passing and not super obvious who each of us is. But this was a head on face to face meeting.

It’s awkward for a few reasons. Firstly I’d just walked out of a session with my make-up halfway down my face. (is it even real therapy if you don’t walk out every session like this? ) But I really don’t want someone seeing me like that. Especially her, in her smart work, shift dress and pretty shoes and cute bag. When I am walking out like Jabba the hut in yoga pants.

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Second awkward reason- What do you even do in that circumstance? Look at her? Acknowledge her with a smile or a hello? Β Give her her privacy and walk head down away?

Third awkward reason – Where’s my fucking privacy? Maybe I don’t want to see anyone else, is she feeling embarrassed or threatened by seeing me? Cos let’s face it, no one likes the existence of other clients. We know they’re there, we know they exist…. but we don’t want to come face to face with it.

Although maybe ” Miss loud and confident” doesn’t care about that shit.

Isn’t it funny that there’s no camaraderie between therapy clients? There’s no conciliatory knowing smiles of ” hey, you picked her as your therapist too? Awesome, well done, you have really good taste. Like me. You are in therapy, I am in therapy- with the same therapist… we are in this together, dude, Solidarity!!!”

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Nope. There is no solidarity fox. It’s more like a sideway glance of “She’s mine, bitch.” Suspicion and downright dislike. A moment of sizing each other up and how we compare, who is better. Who is therapist’s favourite? (Me, obviously.)

When you see another “client-sibling” it’s all out war. We have to fight to the death, our therapist is a limited resource and we can’t have these weaklings take our place in her affections. Hell. No.

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Of course, we don’t really do anything, we bow our head discreetly and walk on because we are too mature for that, we are too busy adulting to be so petty and jealous and possesive. But in our heads it’s like ;

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Fuck you, other client. Fuck you for exisiting. Fuck you for showing your smug, better than me, face! I was here first. (probably.)

And you know, as I headed to the stairs, eager to get away from all the awkward, I heard Sienna direct “Miss Loud and Confident” to her office and she came to say goodbye to me properly and remind me of our Friday check in, it felt better. Because it kind of felt like at least Sienna wanted to say goodbye, that I wasn’t instantly forgotten about for the new and shiny and fucking loud next client.

But really, what am I supposed to do in that situation? Stop and hang around briefly while this other client talks to Sienna, like some sort of socially inappropriate and clingy child?

Walking away felt a bit abrupt and rude, but I didn’t know if Sienna would just take her other client straight away or if she’d finish saying goodbye to me. What is the etiquette here? UGH!!!

And you know…. just as I was sizing up “Miss Loud and Confident”… seeing where she rates in comparison to me, I bet she was doing the same. And it’s just uncomfortable, man! Was she thinking ” phew, at least I’m better than her. Look at the state of her.” ?

Seeing Sienna take a client immediately after me, with barely time to take a breath, just feels dirty.

C’mon Sienna, where’s your therapeutic hygiene??? At least give yourself enough time to change the bedcovers.

That room still had my energy in there, it was still my space, we’d just left it literally 2 minutes beforehand. The words I’d spoken, the tears I’d shed, were still in there, hanging in the air. Sienna was still emotionally *with* me. Her attentions were still on me, my words and emotions were still being processed

And now Miss Loud and Confident is going in there to sit amongst it. *Shudder*

It feels intrusive to me, like sitting in someone else’s bath water or something. Yuck.

And I feel sad I suppose, that somehow I am immediately replacable and forgotten. That what I felt and spoke about in that room only minutes ago, and which impacts me for at least the rest of the day if not longer, is so easily put to the side by Sienna.

I don’t often bump into Sienna’s clients. But it has happened more often that I’d like. And normally it’s okay. And I acknowledge that she has clients after me. But part of me likes to imagine that after my session, she honours that space we just created. Just by taking a few minutes to process, to sort of decompress and allow the energy of the room to settle into a neutral zone again. Just something to cleanse the energy, to clear all remnants of me. And maybe even give herself time for a ” Pee-break” !

Maybe not everyone feels energy the way I do. If I was a therapist I would need time between clients. I’d have little “energy cleansing” rituals, simple things like lighting a candle or opening a window, or spraying some lavender…. just something to separate one client from the next. A way of honouring the work that just took place.

So maybe Sienna doesn’t need any of that, maybe she doesn’t feel energy and maybe ” Miss Loud and Confident” client won’t feel it either, so maybe it doesn’t matter to them.

And as the evening wore on, I began to feel quite angry at “Miss Loud and Confident”. WTF?? We came out on time, which means she was there at least 10 minutes early. Why did she think it’s okay to constantly phone Sienna? Is it not obvious if she doesn’t answer that maybe she’s with another client? So why keep trying?

Send a discreet text and let her know you’re outside then sit the fuck down and wait your turn!

Maybe she’s a therapy newbie, I think to myself. Or maybe she just is an anxious type of person and didn’t think that maybe she had another client in. But then the bitchy side of me thinks ” No, she could see Sienna’s door was closed. She doesn’t look intellectually challenged, so I’m sure she could deduce that ” Sienna is here. Her door is closed, so she’s busy. I’ll sit here and wait.”

I’ve decided, I don’t like Miss Loud and Confident. I hate her brash, over confident demeanour. I hate that she can’t even conceive that maybe someone else who is still within their allocated time with Sienna is just as important as her need to be seen.

I am aware I probably have this all wrong. She’s probably a very nice person. She’s probably not even that loud and confident, it just felt that way as I came out my session half-dazed and emotional, I wasn’t ready for that level of noise and bubblyness.

But you know there’s therapy waiting room etiquette, how can you not know that?

And I know that I have no reason to feel threatened, I am a long term client, I will see her come and go, like I have many others. I know I have Sienna’s love and care in a way many shorter term clients may not. What Sienna and I have, is unique to us and can’t be replicated.

But she is another client and therefore my enemy.

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36 thoughts on “The other client.

  1. plf1990 says:

    I feel very strongly that therapists should take a gap between patients to stop this happening. I’ve only overlapped once, I blogged about it. I was leaving, t had opened the door slightly but I turned round for a cuddle and the next woman just walked right in! Didn’t even knock. I nearly self imploded. Awful.

    It sounds pathetic but I love that I’m the only client that sits on the sofa. Everyone else sits on the chairs. It’s a small thing that makes me different from the rest and I like that.

  2. behindapaintedsmile30 says:

    Miss Loud and Confident was most definitely rude! I wouldn’t be phoning my T if she was running on time. Maybe Sienna was looking at her phone thinking, ‘FFS not her again’. I’m sure that she wasn’t impressed!
    My T has a gap of about 30 minutes I think. She does hypnosis too but I guess she reads her notes from the last session and gets out her script etc. She works from her home though.
    I did see her next client once because we had run over quite a bit. Although maybe the gap is only 20 minutes. I felt an internal sting at having to share her and the idea of being forgotten.
    You do have a point about the gap between sessions. Even if it’s just so that clients after an emotional session don’t have to see the next client when they emerge.
    The memes did make me laugh! 😊

    • Sirena says:

      Lol the memes sometimes just say it all don’t they? πŸ˜‚
      I’m glad others see her as rude too. I kind of want to give her the benefit of the doubt and feel a bit bad judging her. But this is therapy, this stuff happens.

  3. Kate says:

    Ha, I find this secretly funny. Not what happened it how you wrote it πŸ˜‰
    I usally find some comfort in things like holding my therapist hand and her saying ‘I don’t do this with other clients’ it feels like something just between us, something we don’t have to share. But I do get the awkwardness of seeing other clients. My therapist is head of the department so she does a lot of intakes and when I’m in the waiting room there is usually at least one or two of the people waiting that she knows. Ohh I hate it when she greets them all.
    Your ‘other client’ was rude!

    • Sirena says:

      Lol it was meant to be funny so it’s okay. But yeah the feelings behind it are real… but so young that it’s kind of funny.
      I’m glad other people think she was rude too.

  4. This.shaking says:

    Dear Sirena! WTF! I agree with you! But, I have to tell you: Having basically been in suck-my-thumb mode for the last 48 hours, I can’t believe you just made me laugh out loud! You sure can write. Thanks for the help. Maybe I can go and eat something now, seeing you got my thumb out of there! Hugs, always. TS

  5. CD says:

    My T works at a practice with a bunch of others. No one can come in until he invites them in. I’m always early and try not to look or pay attention if he has other clients before me (normally I’m the first of the day) and I have headphones in and don’t make eye contact. The client after me really grates on my nerves. He will walk me out and say good bye then before I’m out of the waiting area he tells them he will be right with them. I think he has about a 10-15 minute gap between. Once I went over by a long time (I was super dissociated and out of it) and I felt terrible when he was apologizing to the people in the waiting room. Today I was there (to see someone else) and he talked to me in the waiting room. I was like, “why are you talking to me? I clearly see you have someone else coming in.” It was really heartbreaking and I couldn’t make eye contact. He did whisper something about seeing me on Thursday, which was nice…but so awkward. I can’t imagine a place not having clients back-to-back.

    However, I tend to feel less possessive instead I feel more sad that I wasted his time and he could be seeing someone else. I always think that he can’t wait to get rid of me at the end of the session.

  6. LB says:

    I caught an interaction between my last therapist and his client as I was leaving a session and it made me really sad. I just noticed how natural he seemed with her, and by comparison, how intense he always was with me. I wondered what they talked about together. It was interesting to say the least.

    In general, though, I find that I don’t mind seeing other clients. I don’t have any feelings of jealousy about my current therapist and his other clients mostly because I know how awesome he is, and I like the idea that he is helping other people.

    • Sirena says:

      I think you’re nicer than me then lol. I’m not usually jealous unless I see them… then it’s the green eyed monster.

  7. manyofus1980 says:

    I have seen clients at my therapists office a couple of times, its awkward,because she works out of her home, well an office off the side of er house.
    she doesn’t like when it happens, but since I get a tax to therapy sometimes I am a couple of minutes early, if it does happen she lets me wait in herhouse until the other client has gone, for both of our privacy.
    I’m sorry you had to go through that. Its a sucky feeling and brings up a lot. xx

  8. Blooming Lily says:

    OMG Sirena I laughed all the way through this post, partly because of your writing (which is awesome), the hilarious memes, and then the pure fact that all of this is SO TRUE AND RELATABLE!!!
    Currently in T’s schedule there’s not a client after me (I think it’s her lunch break and I always feel bad when our session runs into it… which it always does, but I’ve stopped apologizing because she always says that if she couldn’t do it, she wouldn’t. Which makes me scared for the day when maybe she can’t. But that’s another story) – but there IS a client before me, and just today, I saw her. Sometimes there have been other clients before me, some of them have been elderly women, not too threatening, even though I still hate thinking about “sharing” T – but this woman was different. I was sitting in the waiting room, waiting like a little mouse, and this woman busts out of T’s office into the waiting room (5 minutes after my session was supposed to start – but I don’t feel that I can complain because as I said she always gives me even more than the full time). Anyway, she busts out, looks like she is going to leave, then turns around and says, “OH YEAH, FOR THE SCHEDULING NEXT WEEK, HOW ABOUT THAT? I WILL DEFINITELY CALL YOU… BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH” and all of the sudden I hated her. For bringing that conversation into the waiting room where I could hear it. For talking about calling T in front of me. For making me realize that other clients do call T which is something that I’m not allowed to do (though again I can’t complain because I communicate with her through emails and blogs, I have the kitty that she gave me which she specifically said she does not do for other clients, I have the letters she writes to the younger parts… etc) – but it still felt like a slap in the face.
    Finally the other woman left. T took about two minutes before coming and getting me. I do appreciate that she does that – even just a couple minutes in between, even if I have to see my goddam therapy sibling, to “reset.” Even a couple minutes can make a difference. And I hope she does the same thing after me, too, like you said, to honor the vibes that we’ve created in there.
    Anyway, the woman you’re describing sounds like a real prick. Especially with calling Sienna before it was even her session time. WTF??? At the same time, like you said, most people would get that, so while I know it doesn’t help, think of it like this: that is exactly why she needs to be in therapy. Maybe it’s anxiety? Control issues? There is something going on. It also sounds like Sienna might have directed her into her office, to get her out of her hair in order to be able to say goodbye to you, not because she actually wanted to usher the lady in! And I’m SO glad that she did indeed take the time to give you a goodbye.
    You say that you’re easily “forgotten” – while Sienna does probably turn her focus onto other clients while they’re there, I believe she probably thinks about you throughout the day. You are correct, you DO have a special and longstanding relationship with her and I know that she honestly cares about you, so especially after seeing you in session, I doubt that she’s quick to forget about you or rid your presence from her office.
    Boundaries will need to be something that prick client and Sienna work on! (aka her not calling Sienna while she is with another client).
    Overall, I am completely with you. Other clients are the enemy. I hate them all. I hate that they even take up a microsecond, let alone an HOUR, of T’s thought space. It’s unbearable. And I’m sorry that you had to see one who was so terribly rude.

    • Sirena says:

      LOL at “prick client” πŸ˜€ Yeah boundaries might need some work. I feel like once can be forgiven but twice and heads will roll. πŸ˜‰

  9. findingmyway00 says:

    my therapist/psychiatrist shares an office with another one who always has at least two to four clients waiting because he is apparently so good that people will wait hours just to see him. i know who his clients are, and one of them has triggered me twice now because she doesn’t know what is appropriate to talk about in a waiting room (i wrote a blog about it, i think, a while ago). also, i sometimes have such bad anxiety that i cannot handle the thought of sitting in a waiting area with that many people (especially her).

    right before a session once, she had an emergency situation. the receptionist and her talked a bit out front about it. she had also left her door open when talking to an ER doctor/nurse or paramedic just before that, and i heard way too much which triggered me so bad. i was going to ask her if i should just go. she made a comment about how one day it could be me. i don’t think she understood what i meant because i wasn’t upset (just triggered) that it went into my time, but i didn’t want/need to hear details. she also will leave the door open after clients leave and dictate things, so i hear bits and pieces of that and hope that no one hears her talking about me/the others.

    recently, she also had a call during the middle of a session, and she took it because the phone kept ringing. she forgot to put the main phone on mute as well as her cell phone. i was only okay with it because i had a hard time talking for those few minutes, so i was glad it broke the silence. it was awkward though because she talked about another client in front of me. i also dislike when she is busy and goes into my time by up to 15 or 20 minutes so that i have less time. she never used to do that but the last few times has.

    but, yes, it is difficult to see other people in the same space. it is partly why i think i don’t feel that safe there or something…that and the walls are all stark white, and the space is all just very uninviting. i would like all her attention (and outside of sessions too, which isn’t exactly an option) because i have so much (years) invested in her…and she’s the only one who ‘gets’ this.

      • findingmyway00 says:

        with my therapist, it has only happened twice in the 15 years i’ve gone to her. with that particular lady who has triggered me, i have talked to my therapist about it and usually see who is in the waiting room before i go in and just hope that nothing triggering is being talked about.

  10. A wanderess in life says:

    I just left my session. So towards the end my therapist’s phone didn’t ring but vibrated with this persistent ringing. She ignored it as we were in the middle of something serious. I remembered this post Sienna with the pictures and imagined a “miss Loud and Confident” ringing and started laughing randomly. My therapist was probably wondering about why the hell I am laughing. πŸ˜‚

  11. dangerousvoyager says:

    I also hate any reminder that Dr L has other clients or a life outside of my time there, and there was a whole lot of stuff which came to a head last year around this issue and contributed to temporarily changing therapists (although this was only a minor part of why). Ha, like that’s ever going to work – all that happened was re-enacting the same problems with someone else.

    The worst example was the previous client knocking on the door after my session had started, to ask Dr L something trivial, and he had to sort that out and ask her to leave. She was a bit of a strange person, seemed really unaware of social cues and used to talk really loudly on her phone in the waiting area while saying things like “I can’t talk, there’s a woman here” – well maybe if you wanted privacy you should go somewhere else instead of ringing someone up when I’m sitting right in front of you. I assumed it was either some sort of intellectual or social disability or medication side effects, so I cut her some slack and didn’t make too much of a fuss. But her intruding was confusing, because I’d been called in before the my usual start time so I felt guilty and like the time wasn’t really mine so I couldn’t really complain – I didn’t realise then that if Dr L is running ahead of schedule and offers to start earlier that I still only get 50 minutes or I would have been much angrier at both of them. Reflecting back now, I wonder what would have happened if I’d reacted assertively by standing up and telling her off myself for interrupting, and making the whole situation super-awkward for everybody. Something to aspire to, perhaps.

    I feel pretty strongly about phones in sessions though. I honestly can’t see there being that many situations where the therapist taking a call or having some obvious call/message notification like the phone vibrating on the desk is soooo important that it’s worth disrupting the flow of the current session. I mean honestly, it’s actually far more likely that the client who is in the room is the one being talked down from a metaphorical ledge than that a call is something life or death that can’t wait an hour (at most) for the therapist to be free. And if a therapist really does need to to be able to answer calls or receive call notifications in session, it’s something that should be explicitly discussed beforehand and some sort of make-up time scheduled if it disrupts the session. Mostly it’s just laziness, I think, forgetting to put the phone on silent.

    I also agree that it seems kind of icky to have clients back to back with no break – your analogies of not changing the sheets or using the same bathwater really ring true. Ewww.

    • Sirena says:

      That woman you describe sounds weird… but then if you’re gonna meet someone weird, then the therapy waiting room is a likely place.

    • Sirena says:

      Also.. as I think about bringing up this issue with Sienna I start feeling angry and have considered telling that next time it happens I will tell miss loud and confident myself on the way out- just to put the fear in Sienna lol

  12. skinnyhobbit says:

    You expressed how I feel so well. T takes a five minute break between sessions, but once she chimed someone in TWO SECONDS after her door closed behind me…

  13. all the little parts says:

    It’s common (and good practice) for therapists to take AT LEAST 10 mins between sessions. That’s why the therapeutic hour is only 50 mins. They are supposed to use that time to write up notes. However, MOST take longer especially when dealing with high intensity clients like personality disorders or DID. Not because we’re draining but because they need to get some space so they can have a clear head for the next client. I once asked a therapist about this saying I felt like I was on a conveyor belt and she said she actually only sees 5 clients per day.

    I show up early to my therapist’s office because the waiting area is like a half way house between harsh reality and the soft comfort of my T. I need that time to shake off the outside world. I tend to arrive 10-15 mins early (once 20 mins early because it was freezing outside!) and have never bumped into another of her clients. I think therefore she probably has 40 mins between clients. That’s what I’ll do when I qualify if i am allowed because a) I’m a slow writer and won’t be able to make notes in 10 mins b) as you say I’d like to stretch off and go for a wee, mentally reset so I’m as good as I can be for my next client c) I’d like to look over my notes from my last session with my next client so I can hold them, remember important details and sort of bring them into my mind and heart, maybe formulate a plan for the session too.

    I think what happened to you would be very rare and unusual. I’m surprised Sienna let her in before her allotted time, that seems like boundary pushing to me. And if Sienna was running on time then ringing is a definite no no. Sienna should gently point out to that woman that while you are in session it is a sacred space she wouldn’t like it if you were to do it to her. If she’s late it’s fine but a longer break between clients would almost definitely ensure that overlap would not happen.

    • Sirena says:

      Thanks for this. It actually transpired later that the woman wasn’t a therapy client, she was there about something else, so she wouldn’t know about therapy boundaries and things. Sienna says she takes around 30 minutes between clients.

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