I was all set to write a new post when I was felled by food poisoning, a new experience for me and one I am happy to have waited this long into my life to experience -- and would be happy to never repeat. So instead of a new post today, I offer you an previous one.
Recently I was asked what I mean by the vessel of psychotherapy. Certainly the vessel includes the physical space -- I wrote some about this here -- but it is also a great deal more. It starts with a place to meet, a room with a door that closes, so that what is outside can be kept outside and the two inside can be free from interruptions. Needless to say, neither patient nor therapist should be answering the telephone or otherwise attending to things breaking in from outside the therapeutic space.
A proper container needs to be intact, without holes or cracks. What does this mean in terms of doing therapy? We all know about confidentiality -- the therapist is constrained from discussing the patient with anyone without permission. But how often is the patient made aware of her responsibility for also maintaining the integrity of the vessel? How often do patients tell their partners or friends in detail about their sessions? When this happens, the vessel of that work develops a crack and some of the energy leaks out, energy that if it stayed in the vessel would be available for the work of the therapy.
When insurance pays for the therapy, there is a crack in the vessel because the insurance company can decide suddenly and arbitrarily not to pay or to reduce what is paid or demand records of sessions. Because he who pays the piper picks the tune.
It took me a long time to really get this more than intellectually. For me it had to do with needing to be willing to risk being alone in the therapy with my analyst. This work is intense and the pressure to punch holes in the vessel is always there. And holes and cracks will inevitably occur. Discovering them and patching them is part of the work. It took me a long time to get all of that on a feeling level.