Moments of Meaning

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Unexpected Lessons from Practice

By Ryan Howes

There are two kinds of moments that live on in the memories of most therapists. One involves our flashes of therapeutic brilliance, when we feel as if the stars align and we’re suddenly able to deliver the perfect interpretation, the magical reframe, or the ultimate empathic sigh. They’re as close as we therapists get to rock star moments, or primetime dunks and touchdowns. The problem is that instead of being witnessed in a huge arena of adoring fans—as we feel they should be—these heroic triumphs are hidden away behind the closed doors of our isolated profession. In fact, if we’re honest with ourselves, an embarrassing portion of these supposedly spectacular insights don’t even register with our clients.

“Hmmm, interesting,” we might hear from them, followed by “Have you ever heard of the Mindfulness Primal Scream App? I’m thinking of trying that.”

But then there are other kinds of moments, often very quiet ones, in which humanity usurps technical skill and offers a surprising outcome. While these moments may not show up in future training manuals, they remain incandescently enduring reference points for the therapists involved.

Recently, I was honored to host an event called “Moments of Meaning,” where therapists took the stage to share experiences like these. What follows are a few stories from that evening that demonstrate that healing often comes from unexpected places.

—By Ryan Howes

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  • Comment Link Saturday, 07 November 2015 22:27 posted by elaine dafnis

    Wonderful story and therapeutic example!

  • Comment Link Sunday, 20 September 2015 13:17 posted by Laurie Yankowitz

    Beautiful story....too easy to underestimate people, especially when they have certain diagnoses, where over-generalization of symptoms can preclude individual potentials....