Recently I gave myself permission for an extended lunch hour during my working day, and decided to watch a daytime TV drama programme.  It’s an occasional series.  It’s pure fantasy.  But light and engaging.  And a change from the emotional engagement in my usual work.

So I got my cup of tea, made myself comfortable and watched.

Except that suddenly the atmosphere was dark and threatening; the music conveyed a sense of foreboding; the drama was electric. The emotion was intense.  It was an in-depth psychological trauma-filled tale.  I was totally gripped.  I held my breath.

As the story reached its conclusion and the programme finished, my whole body relaxed and I gave an audible sigh of relief.

Phew!  Talk about unexpected!

Now I had to “get myself back together again” for my afternoon’s work!

But the experience reminded me of some particular first sessions with clients.

The notes indicate the presenting issue as outlined on the phone to me, the Manager or Administrator, or in some cases given by the client’s Employer.

And indeed the client includes that initial presenting issue almost immediately as they start talking.

But the detail fades when they go on to relate some significant trauma in their own life or that of a family member.  The stakes are raised as the story unfolds, and suddenly the work is on a different level with concerns for safeguarding, emotional, mental and physical health.

My body shifts and my mind goes up several gears.

Of course, the presenting issue, whatever it is, is often the final straw in a whole string of events.  And a strong indicator of the impact on the client’s emotional, physical and mental well-being of the trauma which has been spilled out in the room.

Never assume anything!

When will I ever learn!