What do your patients talk about?

Many patients want to think they’re not talking about the right thing. There is no right or wrong thing. If we start with the premise that all words and actions are unconsciously motivated, and I think they are, then there is no right. There are clues in everything that is said.

I have one young man I work with, who comes in and talks 75% of the time about soccer. He’s big into soccer, European soccer. 10% of the time he talks about gaming online. He talks about what he perceives as his problem areas; homework, school, mom, dad. He’s doing remarkably well. He’s improving. He’s improving because he has a relationship with somebody he can talk about what he needs to talk about. I don’t tell him what to talk about.

One of the things I find fascinating is somebody has a patient that has lost a loved one, or suffered a terrible trauma. I’ve supervised other analysts. The analyst is frustrated that the patient isn’t talking about the trauma. I tell them, “They don’t have to.” They need to talk about what they’re ready to talk about, when they’re ready to talk about it. I don’t direct people, “Hey, you know, your father died. Let’s talk about it.” They may never have to talk about it, and still resolve the issue, by talking about other issues. It’s really fascinating. ~ Rafael Sharón, NCPsyA, SCPsyA, Psychoanalyst in Princeton NJ

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