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  • Danielle Feerst

The client as a mirror

“Some people come into your life as blessings. Other people come into your life as lessons.” —Mother Teresa

As I think about my journey into occupational therapy, I realize how the people I have met in my life have prepared me for my future as an OT and some of the client interactions I will face on the job.

In grad school, we took a course on clinical reasoning and role played scenarios that could occur in clinical interviews with clients, caregivers, and coworkers. We discussed methods of interaction and therapeutic use of self, modes and styles to elicit information in an interview, and setting boundaries with clients. What we did not touch on in our program was that our friendships with classmates or relationships at the time with professors might resemble or foreshadow the client relationships to come in 2019 and beyond.

Some people you meet teach you big lessons about life: perhaps you are too loud or messy as a housemate, too emotional, too distant, or a poor communicator. Did you know that you process information this way, or set your toothbrush on this side of the sink that way? Did you realize that you slam the door every time you leave the house? Raise your hand first in class? Speak too softly when you’re nervous? These little traits, flaws, and special parts of you are exist by the perception and interpretation of your presence by people in your life. You come to life by those who notice you and reflect back your personality so you can develop, grow, and build upon those qualities that define your personality!

Ultimately, our relationships are vital to our growth and to our time on earth. Relationships and human connections teach us about ourselves and about life more than technology ever can or will be able to in the future. Every connection you make in life has a mirrored aspect to traits that you value or disdain within yourself. I wanted to write a blog note about this, because as a future OT, I think clients will come and go in our lives – some of whom we connect with and others who we do not. However, if we take a reverent perspective on relationship development and interpersonal relationships at work and life, we can derive deeper meaning in our therapeutic relationships with even the most annoying or endearing clients.

So embrace the lessons and the divine in each person you meet –

xo,

Dani

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