Leading by example to find solutions
'What are you getting paid for?’ I heard myself ask out loud. I looked around to see who was listening. Quickly realising I was facilitating a therapeutic group and had not prepared this intervention. I noticed how the group had gone quiet and its customers looked towards me. Patiently waiting for me to answer my own question. I stumbled unprepared ‘I am paid to lead’ I said. This answer though, just raised the next unspoken question, lead with what? ‘Lead with my vulnerability.’ I stumbled again, ‘I am paid to trust you before you trust me.’ It sounded good enough. Relieved myself and the group relaxed. The therapeutic conversation moved on but the question remained. What am I actually getting paid for?
'What are you getting paid for? could be considered the central challenge to therapists in general. What exactly do you do that has a monetary value beyond that of the customer? It is also a challenge for the customer. Couldn't you get that elsewhere? What about cheaper or free? I attempt in this article, to give you its customer, a fuller answer for my professional practice. Why, sometimes, it may be a good use of your money to pay for a therapist. At the very least, I hope you will agree, it is always a good idea to know what we are paying for when we are buying something.'
'It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.' - Harry S Truman.
'In therapy the customer gets the credit. The therapist succeeds by failing the patient's way. Bearing the consequence of that failure. Namely redundancy from temporary employment. In my experience this is a disciplined and effective way of being with people. Admitting our mistakes and trying not to repeat them. Accepting the complaint, anger and disappointment of the customer without retaliation. Responding in an adult way to the customers corrective criticism. Exploring what has happened between us. Breaking the comfortable lock of complementarity. Letting go of a fantasy of being the complete, innocent, blameless therapist. In these ways the therapist is paid to change, in order to help the customer. And so in the end, my first answer to the therapeutic group was not a bad stab at the value added. What am I getting paid for? Paid to lead with my vulnerability, then to follow yours, to a place of greater psychological health.'
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