Since the beginning of our work together, I’ve noticed that David escapes from being a client by becoming the person who instead “dispenses wisdom,” as he has described it. I’ve tried to talk to him about how he uses this posture to keep me at a distance, becoming a sort of therapist himself.
I’ve been watching cautiously to see where this would lead us. His difficulty bearing need and dependency seemed clear, but I’ve also wondered whether feelings of envy for me as his therapist might also be in the background.
Last Friday, the envy came to the fore – although I didn’t quite see it coming. During session, I was focusing on the way he goes from feeling unbearably small to becoming too big, all at once. He took issue with every remark I made; he became increasingly angry and contemptuous in his manner toward me until finally, by the session’s end, I had become a worthless, incompetent therapist he despised.
Only at the end did I realize I should have been focusing on this process all along. I did what I could in the final minutes to describe what had happened between us. Later that day, I received an email from him, extremely hostile and contemptuous in manner, telling me he wanted to take a month off to try something different.