It’s a beautiful day! You’re at a local event, maybe Heard on Hurd or the Farmer’s Market. You’re enjoying the sunshine and breeze; Oklahoma’s best! But hark, who goes there? It’s your therapist over yonder. You freeze with a whoosh of jumbled thoughts going through your head: my therapist has a life outside of my one hour a week? This feels so unnatural! Should I say hi? And you likely adhere to 5 D’s of dodgeball as Patches O-Houlihan so eloquently puts it in the 2004 hit movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, dodge, duck, dip, dive, and…dodge! You are not alone with those bruises from your acrobatic escape as many people flee at the sight of their counselor in a public setting. This is a perfectly valid response to this experience. However, it is not the only response.
Like seeing a teacher outside of school or a dog walking on its hind legs, seeing your counselor in public almost automatically evokes a certain level of anxiety. For some, your stress level might sky rocket into deep space while others may only feel a mild discomfort due to the foreign experience.Still others may feel no anxiety at all, rather excitement at seeing a friend type figure. Again, any response is valid regardless of how you feel about your counselor in the 50-60 minutes you see him/her at his/her office.Even if you have a fantastic jive with each other therapeutically, it can still be awkward.
Because we know it can be awkward, I’ll tell you what we, as counselors, will typically do in that situation and why. Remember that spiel you got at the beginning of all this? The one about confidentiality? Well that comes into play here. You could be walking with your mom, friend from water polo, or Uncle Bob. We don’t know who you’re with or if they’re aware of your counseling experience. So if I were to boisterously give you a big hello I might be, as it were, “outing” you to whomever is around when an awkwardly long silence during introductions rolls around. Even if you aren’t with anyone, other people are bustling by on the street/grocery aisle/gas pump/etc. While we don’t tout ourselves as famous, many communities are small and people may know our line of work and subsequently deduce our relationship status.
This brings me to how we will typically respond: a pleasant and courteous smile with limited eye contact the same as we’d extent to a perfect stranger in passing. That is unless you choose to say hi to us - in which case we’d love to say hi back. All this to maintain your counseling anonymity unless you so choose otherwise.Well there you have it. The ball is in your court! While we won’t conduct a full therapy session at Sprouts (save the gory details for our next session), we’d love to say hi. Or not. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Edmond Family Counseling is ready to help with any mental health issue. Log on to http://edmondfamily.org or come by our office at 1251 N Broadway and say hello! Donations to support our mission are always appreciated.