THE LETTER 10 (Summer 1997) pages 14-25
I should like to begin this presentation by describing a little of my own state of mind prior to receiving the phone call in which the patient I shall be discussing was referred to me. I had just returned from a three week summer vacation trip and spent an additional week vacationing at home. My plan was to resume work with my private patients in a few days’ time and to return to my job the following week. Like most of us, I was anxious about the gaps that had lately appeared in my private practice schedule and wondered whether and when my next referral would come.
It was with considerable excitement then, that I responded to a phone message from a former patient from whom I had not heard for about eighteen months since he terminated his treatment. In the interim, I had learned that his father, who had been chronically ill for years, had died. At the time we had stopped working together, I felt that, though there was still much we could have done, the timing of the termination made sense in the light of his life’s circumstances and the significance of what we had, in fact, achieved over a period of many years. My wishful thought was that he was calling now to resume treatment.
When I phoned him, he was cordial, told me of his father’s death and briefly of some advances in his career before indicating that he wished to refer a patient to me. He said that he had met the prospective patient socially, that he, like my former patient, was a gay man, that he was troubled about his homosexuality, depressed and had expressed suicidal ideas. My ex-patient thought that I would be a good therapist for this man. Here, I must clarify that my ex-patient is also a psychotherapist. He added that, within the next few weeks, he too would like to come in for a session. …