Tell Me Everything: A Case For Real Connection



One of my best friends is having a hard time. I’ve been talking to him on the phone about this problem recently (a year ago I decided to bring phone calls back as my primary mode of communication – best decision ever), processing and laughing and complaining together. At the end of our last rather long conversation about his current situation, he apologized to me. “Sorry to talk about this again,” he lamented. “Next time we’ll talk about something else, I promise.”

That’s cool. But I mean, I hope not.

There is a social imperative that dictates that we not be an annoyance to other people by revealing too much of ourselves. It is agreed upon that by adulthood, we “should” have our stuff together, and we are “supposed to” have figured out how to do life the right way. I’m not sure where this idea orginated, as I literally am acquainted with zero adult humans that are pulling this off successfully. To assume that we are just to stop learning and forge ahead after adolescence, totally formed and informed, with no need of further support or guidance, seems to me like a problematic notion at best and a downright lie at worst. Either way, for whatever reason, we place this expectation upon ourselves, and in turn feel guilt and shame when we reveal our underbelly to our tribe, sheepishly admitting, “I haven’t actually figured it all out yet.”

There is also a scary edge to making conversation about something that is truly substantial. There’s a fear that our listener will get sick of us and head for the hills. Or quietly decide that we’re nuts, and patronize us. Or wish that they were doing anything else with their time than listening to us drone on into their ears. There’s a fear that we’ll monopolize the conversational space, and that our friend won’t get to say whatever important thing they had to share, and stop calling us when they need us because now we’re that friend that talks all the time and doesn’t let them say anything. Etcetera.

Talking with my friend about his real life is my privilege. It’s a privilege earned over twenty years of friendship, the kind of thing that you can’t just do with someone you’ve only met an hour ago (or a year ago, or maybe even three years ago). On that phone call, I know I’m getting to hear about his life at it’s stickiest, and that he’s feeling enough discomfort in the sticky right now that he needs to share some it with me to lighten the load. I’m familiar with my own versions of sticky, and by virtue of devesting him of his, I feel comforted to know that I in turn can invite him down into the sticky with me when I don’t want to be there alone.

As a friend and as an individual, I lie in wait for those moments of realness. I am acutely aware that I have not figured it all out, and revel in the sharing of this secret with the people in my life.  I look forward to those vulnerable conversations when we get to take off all our layers and let it all hang out, glancing at each other, “OK if we do this now?”,  biting tentatively into all the delicious stuff that we’re really made of. I’ll wade through the small talk, tolerate the weather and the sports and the obligatory questions that no one cares about the answers to anyway, for the moment we get to the meat of the matter, when we say, “So this is how it felt to be me today.”

We want to know about one another’s days. We want our people to ask us how we are doing, and to mean it, and to tell us how they are doing, and to make something real out of that exchange of words. We want to hear the joyful things, and the hard things, and the vulnerable things, and the sticky situations and the great triumphs of one another’s lives. This is how we are seen, and how we see others. This is how we connect.

Is there any privilege greater than this?

Originally posted on my blog, Common Humanity, at Psych


Useful Information

Some frequently asked questions and useful answers.

Online therapy works in the same way as in-office therapy, but is done online, similar to a Skype or FaceTime conversation. Clients are able to have sessions from home, work, or any other convenient location. We meet with clients using a HIPAA-compliant secure platform.

Online therapy allows you to work with us from the comfort of home, or any private location of your choosing. For some, the screen provides an added layer of comfort that makes the challenging work of being vulnerable in therapy a little easier.

Online therapy also creates the unique opportunity for you to work with us without the constraints of proximity! The practice was born in Keene, New Hampshire, but has since grown to service clients anywhere in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Florida, and New Hampshire.

Online therapy is a great option for clients that travel for work, for college students that go home during the summertime and do not want a break in their sessions, and for anyone with a challenging or inconsistent day-to-day schedule. It is an excellent choice for clients seeking a therapist with a particular specialty that they are unable to find support for locally. Some of our clients report that online therapy makes the vulnerability element of therapy a bit less intimidating.

No. For some clients with more complex symptoms or safety concerns, having a local therapist that is readily available is important in case of crisis or the need for a higher level of care. Online therapy is also a challenge for clients that do not have access to a private, quiet space to be “in session” for the hour, or for those that do not have adequate internet connectivity.

There are several reasons why we don’t accept insurance. The most important are:

Confidentiality. Insurance companies require that your information be shared with them in order to pay for services. We prefer that clients’ information is kept as confidential as possible.

The pressure to diagnose. Insurance companies require that clients are given a mental health diagnosis in order to pay for therapy. We have found that many clients benefit from therapy, but do not meet criteria for a diagnosis. Not using insurance allows clients to access therapy without being given a mental health diagnosis.

Flexibility and freedom. Insurance companies dictate the length and number of sessions they will authorize, as well as when a client is no longer eligible for the benefits of therapy. Because we do not work with insurance panels, you and we can collaborate to determine your individual needs regarding session length, frequency of sessions, and when to terminate therapy.

While we do not accept insurance, many clients choose to submit receipts to their insurance companies to receive reimbursement via out-of-network benefits. We are happy to provide these receipts for you! Please check with your insurance company for details on your benefits.



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