Not when I’m working

Psychotherapy clients often ask if I get tired of hearing about people’s problems. I guess it could happen, but I don’t really think of psychotherapy in those terms. Unlike a friend who might be overburdened by a stream of complaints, I am listening with a trained ear. I hear a lot of problems, it’s true, but my focus is on understanding the person sitting in front of me, not on solving their problems. I listen beyond the problems to decipher who this person is, why they have these problems, and what makes these problems particularly difficult for this person at this time.
I have empathy for the problems, but I don’t stop there. My empathy opens me up to understand more and more about this struggling person as they as they talk about their thoughts, feelings, and the emotionally significant stories of their life. Together, we come to understand the historical source of the surface issues and learn everything we can about these roots. Our work may be as difficult as unknotting a delicate chain or as easy as unclogging a drain! We explore, grieve, celebrate, and get down to the business of recreating new patterns to replace the stubborn old ones that no longer serve a healthy purpose.
So, yes, sometimes I get tired of hearing about other people’s problems, but not when I’m working.