PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued
One might suppose that the experiences all of us have had with ‘professionals’ would have armed us with a self‑protective readiness to demand explanations until understanding is achieved. The bottom line is that clients are ‘in the driver’s seat’. As consumers, the clients are paying for the professional’s time and expertise, whether directly or indirectly, usually at exorbitant rates. However, it seems that most people are afraid to take too much of a ‘professional’s’ time, perhaps because of the cost. Or perhaps they are afraid to sound ignorant. Anyway, few people challenge the foreign languages in which professionals often talk. More to the point, Felicity should have known better than to assume that his few sentences of jargon would mean something to someone else. He should have checked to make sure that the messages Alvin had received bore at least a vague resemblance to what was intended. However, Felicity didn’t, still partly possessed of the notion that this was Alton.
Providentially, as in Alton’s case, initial appointments were made with Alvin at the rate of twice per week. When he appeared for his appointment four days later, Alvin was dishevelled, tired and deeply depressed. He arrived late and knocked tentatively on the door. When admitted, he started to cry, opening his conversation with the statement that life was hopeless and that he wanted to do away with himself. Alvin’s appearance and his suicidal remarks took Felicity completely by surprise. He had expected Alvin to be delighted with the anticipated effects of the Ritalin and he had no idea what could have happened to produce this despondent reaction. He asked about recent events in Alvin’s life. What he heard took him back with real embarrassment to his own insensitivity at the last visit.