A Necessary Confrontation

///A Necessary Confrontation

A Necessary Confrontation

By |2020-04-20T22:35:16+02:00April 20th, 2020|Announcements|4 Comments

Thank you, Christian Boisson, for your important confrontation.
Your words made an impact on me and stimulated me to think differently about what I wrote on April 11 to Lily. In that post I made a major professional and personal error that I want to correct.

In the posting of April 11, I complimented Lily for her sensitivity towards her client and her willingness to not worry about the coronavirus when she held her client. My initial reaction was that this is a wonderful story about Lily’s care and concern for him and that he is fortunate to have her. If I had been thinking clearly I would NOT have said those words in this time of our current Crisis.

Christian has raised a much larger issue. We all have an obligation to uphold the law. The current law in France does not allow non-family members to be any closer than two meters. I failed to keep this in mind.
Ethically we all have an ETHICAL commitment: our most important responsibility is to our CLIENT’S WELFARE — not only to their mental health but to their physical health, particularly in this time of the coronavirus.

I focused on the psychological needs of the client and failed to see the larger picture — the physical health of each person. Lily did not know if she was a carrier of the virus or if he was infected. In hindsight I would have encouraged Lily to do something similar to what John Hallett suggested. Perhaps I would have acknowledged his need to be held, the importance of his need, and then invite him to imagine being held and comforted.

As I write this I pray that both Lily and her client remain healthy. We are living in exceptional times. This short note is an apology to Lily and all our members for my losing sight of how things are different in each of our lives because of this virus. Thank you, Christian, for your confrontation!

Caringly, Richard

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  1. Christian Boisson 21/04/2020 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Hello to you all,

    I thank you, Richard, for the comment you just made, and I have a lot of respect for the way you’re questioning yourself.
    This is a good example for all of us.
    Thank you to each of you for your comments as they inform our thinking and show us the need to share our practices and perhaps especially during this strange period that is shaking all our landmarks.
    But also especially thanks to you Lily for sharing this experience that you have lived with your client.
    It takes a certain courage to show our work and by exposing yourself you took a risk. I really hope I haven’t been hurtful to you in what I’ve said.
    Today, I regret that I have not shared my own personal experience that could have helped understand better what I wanted to say.
    A little over a month ago, I had all the symptoms of COVID 19. I was diagnosed but not tested. Fortunately, the symptoms were not violent for me and I was isolated for just over two weeks.
    Less than a week before the beginning of the symptoms, I had visited my mother, who is a 92-year-old woman still full of energy. She lives far from me, alone in a apartment. In her life, she has faced two serious cancers and she maintains a fragility especially in the bronchi.
    When I was diagnosed, I didn’t think about it right away but the question came very quickly: what if I had contaminated my mother?
    I didn’t tell her, I didn’t want to worry her, but for three weeks, I called her every day. I’m still calling her every day, it’s our ritual ! Today I am quiet on that side because she’s fine.
    Perhaps that is what will help understand why I was so sensitive to this subject.
    We talked about it recently together about this fear I had. Of course she had thought about it! But she didn’t want to tell me either. It was a beautiful moment of shared emotions.
    I’m gonna share this because I found my mom is funny.
    She loves confinement because, she says, it allows her to do what she doesn’t usually have time to do!!!!
    Of course, she no longer goes to her gym class in the pool, she no longer plays cards in her club and she no longer visits the few friends she has left.
    As I said in my first post, this actual situation will help us to grow professionally.
    With much affection,


  2. Lily Wessel 21/04/2020 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Dear Christian, dear all,

    Dear Christian, I feel moved…I sensed your stress in your writing to me..I felt how your care was authentic…Thank you for explaining your experience of corona, and with your mom…so much fear goes with this period of time…
    My reaction? once my surprise was gone, I thought: “we are all different…” and then I felt what I said above.. I also became aware of how I exposed myself: as a psychopracticionar, and as colleague! This period confronts us with new fields of analysis and that is great. I realise, study and learn a lot these weeks I learn a lot from all of you, my dear colleagues, through what you shared, and that feels so precious! Holding without touching : is possible…In this particular situation I did not, and that makes me reflect about a theme I know very well: when there is real ‘danger’ I do not exist anymore: I’m there for the other. BUT in this case: The risk was double, and I forgot, like Richard said: the Physical risk for him as well. And should have had the view of both risks and then compose..
    I am very grateful to you too Christian, and really have the feeling that this allows to feel closer to each other.

    With my best wishes to all of you from the ground of my heart, Lily

  3. John Hallett 21/04/2020 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    This is how all conflict should be resolved: with respect, empathy and honesty on all sides. I feel moved by what Richard, Christian and Lily have shared. I would also like to add that when I responded to Lily with my dilemma I did not mention that where I live there is no law against seeing clients in person, so I would not have been breaking any law. However it is true that I do not know for one hundred percent that neither myself nor my client is virus free so if I had hugged my client I would have been taking some kind of risk. Perhaps even if my client had not been in emergency I would have hesitated. I hope so but I can’t say for sure. Sometimes we have to take emotional risks with clients but physical risks are different and not wise.

    With deep respect, John

  4. Richard Erskine 21/04/2020 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Dear John:
    You touched my heart with your words, “This is how all conflict should be resolved: with respect, empathy and honesty on all sides”. Your statements reflects the central premise in the Ethics Code of our Association. I hope that we can all continue to live with this quality of interpersonal contact.
    With appreciation, Richard

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