There is something so fantastic about the crisper nights. I actually slept with our comforter and all the windows open last night. It was delicious to have the real air coming in as opposed to the fake air conditioned air. It got me thinking. Real versus fake. Is it always better? Better yes. Easier… definitely not!
Being my authentic self-my real self is not always easy. Whether we are subscribers to the old adage “The truth shall set you free” or not…..There are some real consequences to always telling the truth. This was so evident recently when an ex client of mine wanted me to write a letter on his behalf because he was taking his former employer to court for a variety of stress related issues.
I had not seen this client in 7 months and when he was my client he took very unkindly to any sort of boundary setting on my part. When I said no… he yelled and he threatened. When his employer said no he yelled and he threw things. When his mother said no he got violent. That is, the way he coped and lived his truth landed him in a variety of self injuring experiences. It also meant that he could be very harmful to his family and others. I quickly realized that this person was beyond my scope and I needed to refer him to other professionals. This was not received well to say the least!
But I did conclude that the stressors in his life were not the only problem in his life… his chemical imbalance, substance addictions and mental state of being were also implicated. He would be better off with a different type of professional. So we transitioned in that vein.
Fast forward to his request for the letter. I was less than enthusiastic about saying yes to this request. Basically I was reluctant to re involve myself in a potentially volatile situation especially after 7 months of his absence from my practice. But also the letter that I would be writing might not affect him and his case in a positive way. I felt it would be tough to reveal my truth to him. I confess, his previous reactions caused me profound trepidation to say the least. But my truth was just that. Something that would displease my client immensely and most certainly bring on a volatile reaction.
We as therapists sometimes get caught up in the disease to please despite our best intentions toward authenticity and dispassionate truth telling. In this case I absolutely needed to be real versus fake. But it did scare me.
I spent days mining my thoughts about this…agonizing really. I consulted with colleagues and mentors. This was invaluable in my quest for support and guidance. In the end my tough decision was made for me as he gratefully decided not to have the letter. He did not want to pay for me to write the letter.
Had I been obligated to be “real” with him… it would have been a tough one…yet a necessary experience that would have helped me grow and step into my power centre as a professional that is not the slave of fear… but the advocate of truth telling no matter what.
But I did learn allot in any case. I learned that no matter what, I am more of service to him and to all my clients if I speak my truth. The truth is the great liberator.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA