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Some shrinks concede having already felt bored during a session.
PSYCHOLOGY – A shrink who slumps? This scene looks like it was taken from a movie. Nevertheless, ” It could happen “, admits the psychologist and psychoanalyst Marie-Frédérique Bacqué. However, she had no experience of it: “No patient has ever tapped me on the shoulder. » And is boredom possible? To get to the bottom of it, The HuffPost contacted psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts to ask them the question. Hoping for honest answers.
If everyone recognizes that dropping out, being inattentive or being confused between patients and each other’s stories ” can happen “, the degree of boredom seems to vary according to the therapeutic approach, the practitioner’s state of fatigue or even the redundancy of the patient’s discourse.
The psychoanalyst Jean-Pierre Zobel believes that it is inseparable from the therapeutic posture. In contrast to the clinical psychologist Georges Cognet who assures never to be bored. But he acknowledges: “It is possible to feel it. I don’t think you can do this job if you need constant stimulation. »
During a psychoanalysis, the therapist alternates between two positions: active listening and floating attention. According to Jean-Pierre Zobel, floating attention is “a kind of dissociated posture where we put our brain on standby. But he remains attentive to what is important clinically speaking.. And the psychoanalyst assures him: if he were constantly in an active listening position, he would be exhausted, because the brain has a limited recording capacity.
Adopting the attitude of floating attention can thus provoke a feeling of boredom in the therapist. A patient can have very important defense mechanisms and circumvent his problems. Which leads him to repeat the same stories in different situations… Sometimes for a while.
Which is “a little conventional and redundant for the therapist”admits Jean-Pierre Zobel. “A patient told me for six months about his bathroom tiles that came from Italy… It’s nothing thrilling, but it’s an integral part of the therapy »he says.
But banal or agreed speeches during a session are not necessarily negative, according to Marie-Frédérique Bacqué. They indicate that the patient unconsciously defends himself against the analytic process: “It’s an element of the diagnosis that means the patient is not advanced enough to freely associate their thoughts with confidence. »
It is even behind things that are not necessarily of interest that we detect the important details that allow the therapy to move forward. “Not adopting the posture of floating attention is to take the risk of missing the essential”believes Jean-Pierre Zobel.
Fatigue, redundancy, personal history…
Boredom can occur in other circumstances: depending on the fatigue of the shrink, the length of the day and the sequence of patients… But also because of the personal experiences of the practitioner. “It can be a defensive posture when the patient recounts life sequences that refer to those of the therapist that he has not sufficiently elaborated”according to Jean-Pierre Zobel.
Therapists may also drop out, be inattentive, or be confused. “It happened to me to confuse the first names of members of the family of a patient. This is why I recommend taking notes at the end of the sessions. The confusions must however be analyzed because they can also show defenses of the analyst.reports Marie-Frédérique Bacqué.
What about a patient who is particularly annoying? The psychologist Georges Cognet, specialist in children and adolescents, strives to take each story with the same interest. “What a young actress is going to tell me, for example, may seem much more interesting than what a depressed teenager tells us, because her story is far from us, he concedes. But we must fight against misplaced curiosity and not live experiences by proxy. »
How to react ?
Not showing this feeling of boredom is all the more important if a patient can notice it. This can jeopardize the therapeutic link and the trust that unites the unit with the shrink. In these cases, some therapists advise sincerity.
“You can tell the patient that it’s hard to concentrate. We can also explain to him what we are doing so as not to give the impression that we are distracted.explains George Cognet who also advises to clearly define your therapeutic objectives to avoid boredom.
When it happens anyway, some try to use it as a clue to progress in therapy. If the psychiatrist Nicolas Neveux also ensures not to be bored during his sessions (lasting half an hour), he regularly experiences spikes of lack of interest which he uses as alarm signals. He then wonders what this feeling reveals and acts accordingly.
“For example, if the patient is redundant, he may be in avoidance mechanisms. I can possibly change my way of approaching things, redirect the subject, or confront it… If the monotony of the tone is frequent, it may be a sign that the person is not well »he explains.
For him, a shrink must try to hide his emotions and not show any boredom. The danger ? Let the patient imagine that the therapist doesn’t care what he tells him. “If he’s depressed, he already thinks no one loves him, that’s not going to help him…” So rest assured: if your shrink may seem distracted, he is at the same time looking for the keys to your well-being. Even if his attitude may suggest the opposite.
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