Being a psychologist is not without its stresses. Sometimes it can be hard working with people who are struggling and aren’t hopeful things could change. Some people find themselves in very difficult situations, of no fault of their own, and have to find a way to keep afloat. I sometimes wish I could wave a magic wand to take a client’s distress away, but it’s never that simple.
It’s always great to hear from an old client but most often clients don’t call to share good news, however much I might encourage them to do so when we part. Usually, old clients call when they are going through a rough patch and feel a refresher might help. It’s great to hear from them, and often I’m fired again after a visit or two.
If I bump into a former client on the street, I might be lucky enough to score an update. But I can’t call old clients up to check on them; that’s not in the job description. I have to wait for them to get in touch.
That’s why last week’s phone call from a former client was so touching. I picked up the phone to hear the familiar voice of a mom who had sought help for one of her children when I was hospitalized and had to close my office. I had helped the family previously, and everyone was doing well when we first parted. Because I was ill, I gave her the name of a very capable colleague. It was hard to pass her on, not because I was turning down business but because I had developed a good relationship with the family and felt sad I could not help.
Usually, when I send former clients elsewhere for whatever reason–maybe a colleague has greater expertise in an area, or I’m heading on vacation when a crisis strikes–I don’t hear from them again. Not in this case, however. The mom called last week to tell me how much she liked the new psychologist and how her child was again thriving. She was so happy to be able to call me with good news, and I was thrilled to hear it. She was also kind enough to ask me how I was, since I had acknowledged I was unwell when I sent her elsewhere. I gave her a brief update and off we went.
It’s been over a week, but I am still happy when I think about that call. The mom took the time out of her busy day to let me know her family was doing well. What more could I ask for? I’m happy knowing that a client I once saw is thriving, with or without my help. And that that client cares enough to take the time to let me know.
I shouldn’t speak for all psychologists here, but I’m going to anyhow. I can’t help myself. If you’re ever wondering whether to call your former counsellor to tell her you’re doing well, know she’d love to hear from you. I can’t be the only one who would appreciate that call.