By Dr. Winnie Waiyaki.

My therapist clearly did not attend the class in psychology school where he was supposed to have learnt about seeking permission to conduct therapy from the client. In technical terms it is called, ‘’Informed Consent.’’

It so happens that despite the fact that you have brought yourself to therapy, you must give consent for therapy to begin. It is termed as “informed” because the therapist takes you through what therapy entails. Armed with this knowledge you can decide whether this is the process you want or not. I have had some clients discovering what they needed was actually a coach or a nutritionist in addition to or excluding the therapy process that I expose to them.

Back to my story.

That second session actually felt to me like the end of my journey in psychology. I wanted to go back and re-open my law office. It had been two sessions of nothing but rebuke and I was not taking it any more. Especially after how the session ended.

Upon rebuking me for being sinful for saying my family is dysfunctional, what he proceeded to do can only be viewed as fiction: he started crying! Amid sobs and blowing of his nose (very loudly) he managed to inform me that his mother had died and had not even been buried, and here I am disrespecting my parents. To be honest, I did not immediately see the nexus of the two issues.

Confounded as I was, I found myself standing over his distraught self and touching him on the shoulder to comfort him. I watched my hand shake with the sobs that were heaving his shoulders. In morbid fascination I did actually think of how he was shaking for about two seconds. Then I came to my senses, and realized I was making comforting noises and patting him, yet I was not his therapist! He was mine! So, not sure what to do, I sat down and waited for whatever would be next. When he continued quietly sobbing, perfectly ignoring me, I quietly left the room, paid at the reception and walked bewildered into the hot Nairobi sun. I could not understand what just happened.

Suffice it to say, every client needs to be appraised on information regarding confidentiality, the nature of the therapeutic relationship, issues of time for sessions and fees in the very first minutes of the first session. Clients can also inquire about the therapist’s qualifications, specializations, matters of faith and any other issue they would want to know so as to be comfortable with the person of the therapist and the process of therapy. It is their right and prerogative to chose the current therapist or to move on to another one.

This is the privilege my therapist denied me. I can confirm that I never went back again. Those who hear this story cannot understand why I even went back for the second session. I had not granted permission for this kind of therapy, and neither should you.

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