Lisa Mitchell

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Seeds of Gratitude Inspiration and Giveaway

Lisa Mitchell | Nov 27, 2013 | 10 comments


seeds of gratitude

I’m giving away one seed of gratitude from Generous Nature Pottery!

This week I have a special Thanksgiving invitation for you. 

This invitation is so important to me that I’m actually going to give away a prize for your participation. 

 I think it is a regular occurrence, that we as therapists end our work with clients saying and/or thinking, “It’s been a privilege working with you.”  Clients express gratitude for our help, we feel good about the work we’ve done.  It’s all part of the job……

And, then when we step back, reflect, and  really aim to express gratitude…when we start to acknowledge that  clients have profound effects on us...that our lives have been altered because of our relationships with them.  What can we find?  It is a virtual treasure trove.

So, today, I’m inviting you to reflect on the gifts that you’ve received from your clients. 

I’m not talking about the gifts we aren’t supposed to accept due to our ethical guidelines.  I’m talking about the things we learn and experience. They probably range from simple and small to life changing.  You might have enjoyed a great movie or eaten at a yummy restaurant just because a client recommended it.  Or, you might have been inspired to hire a personal trainer or go on a silent retreat because of the profound effects these decisions had on a client. 

It’s true, the therapeutic relationship is set up to be a  one way deal.  Our work is meant to benefit the client–and the client only.  However, we do form attachments–on the cellular level and with our most basic brain function–and by the very nature of this attachment, there is a reciprocal nature of our relationship.  While we can’t make this the emphasis.  While we need to watch our ethics and boundaries.  We CAN become conscious of the profound effects that our clients have on us.  And, what better time of year to do it than Thanksgiving. 

Here’s my thank you: 

Yesterday, I found myself saying that cliche line, “It’s been a real privilege.”  I meant it in all of the truest sense.  My work with Brittany was difficult and amazing.  The turns that her life took and the decisions she made were inspiring and head turning.  To hold onto my seat in the face of some of her deepest pain and strongest rage was difficult.  And, I do feel privileged. 

But, feeling privileged is not really what I wanted to say.  I wanted to express deep, profound gratitude.  I wanted to state specific appreciation  for things that she taught me.  She showed me how to sneak out my office window and actually had me practice with her—just in case.  She reminded me of how relaxing a set of new Sharpies and a plain white piece of paper can be.  She taught me about using glue gun glue for things other than gluing—sculpting blood and tears and other cool shapes.  She loved my weird, quirky side and related to me from her similar strangeness.

On a deeper level—that profound gratitude comes from her letting me care.  Somewhere within all of her deep wounding and trauma, drug use and opposition to authority,  she found a space for me.  It’s not about being special—it’s about intimacy.  The attachment that we were able to establish forged something in me that I will hold onto.  It is another validation that I can love and care deeply.  It affirms that I am alive and intense and passionate.  So, thank you Brittany.  It’s been a real privilege.

Now you go:

Think back on the things that you’ve learned from your clients.  Think about specific changes in your life that are the result of listening to a client.  Remember them, and now write a thank you to one of them

Granted, we need to keep confidentiality protected here.  So, when you write your thank you in the reply box, make sure that it is changed enough to keep the sentiment, but not to violate the important ethic of confidentiality. 

On Monday, December 2nd, I will choose one of the stories and send the author a “Seed of Gratitude” Pod that  I ordered from Generous Nature Pottery.  (You can see a bunch of them in the blog picture.) In addition, since many of you reside outside the US, and I can’t mail you a package, I will send a special creativity poster to one non-US author.  So don’t stop yourself from entering–wherever you live, one way or another, I will be sending off a present to you!  Promise. 

And for everyone, whether you get a gift from me or not,  I’d love your reply to serve as your gift.  Hopefully you can tend to it so that it grows into more and more appreciation for the impact that clients have in your life.

10 responses to “Seeds of Gratitude Inspiration and Giveaway”

  1. Gabriella says:

    The most important thing I’ve learnt and I’m learning daily from my clients is that they are a perfect mirror of my imperfections and that as they heal…I heal.
    Thanks. Grateful for ever!
    Gabriella from Italy

  2. Joy molaro says:

    My client Jenny would often come to me expressing stress relating to the slowness of the changes she was making. She would often express a need for an overhaul and described her wishes to change her life with very authentic seriousness. From time to time, usually after observing her body language, she would find humor in this part of her personality, she would take a step back, notice how “big” her wish had become, and then laugh at how “funny it is that I forget to be funny!” Jenny once told me about helping her child learn responsibility by keeping a pet…but, worried about her husband’s support, kept the pet under her child’s bed. In telling this story, she was very upset that she had only made one positive step, but that her step was imperfect. Then,somehow, we began to laugh at the thought of her pet lviving under the bed and the wish that we all have for making changes PERFECTLY the first time. It so easy for us to get so stuck on our path to change, especially when we are motivated, that we forget to find humor in our imperfections and missteps. These sessions with jenny always reminded me to take myself a little less seriously. Thank you, jenny!

  3. Mary J Malek says:

    I have had the honor of traveling a nearly 3-year healing journey with “K”. She came into therapy broken, confused, discouraged, powerless. She has unabashedly shared with me the depths of a deeply painful journey from an abusive father and alienating mother. She inhabits a space now that has been transformed. Her brokenness has become strength. I am deeply grateful for her vulnerability and honesty. I have changed as a result of sharing parts of this journey. Her diligence and tenacity have helped me to make meaningful and more permanent changes in my own life. I am taking better care of myself now. What a gift! Thank you, thank you, thank you “K”.

  4. Louanne says:

    Dear Teacher,
    Thank you for not giving up. Thank you for teaching me that inside all of our edges, there is a river….always in flow, always moving. Because of you I know that all those layers between what the eye can see and what the heart can hold is an incredible journey of courage. Each day is new and old at the same time. That is the history present in every moment. Thanks for teaching me to see.


    Louanne in Maine

  5. Grace Bower says:

    I am so grateful for the gratitude I receive so often in the phrase – That’s just what I needed to hear or I really needed to hear that right now – or your call came at just the right time. it encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and say what’s in my heart.

    I am so grateful that I got to hear the story of the fluffy pink bunny slippers and I have shared that so many times since I had the blessings of being on line with you. Thank you.
    And Thank you for thinking of us overseas people who often miss out on treasures we really really want – whoever gets the poster will be thrilled!!

    PS and Happy Thanksgiving – it’s already 4pm Thursday here in New Zealand

  6. Susanne Wilson says:

    Barbara was one of my clients in a residential program for chronically mentally ill people. She had lived in a locked facility for a number of years and our program was her first opportunity to transition to more independence. She was labelled “Borderline Personality” but looking back I believe she suffered from the effects of chronic trauma and the suffering caused by being raised by a mentally-ill mother. Early in my relationship with her, she “ran away” from the program. I followed her in my pickup truck and sat silently with her as she ranted and raved in the passenger seat. That was the beginning of a long, difficult journey. One of her biggest challenges arrived when she began to suffer symptoms of what turned out to be a neck injury. For weeks the physicians labelled her psychosomatic. However, in the end she had a serious neck operation. I sat with her before she was taken into the operating room. Unbeknownst to me, the night counselor was there when she returned to the recovery room. There were many roots of the profound changes she created in herself and one of them was being treated as a “normal” patient by the nurses in the rehabilitation center, the next stage in her physical recovery. She made such a good recovery, mentally and physically that she was able to eventually live in an apartment in supported living and have a kitty, her dream. She taught me that even the seemingly impossible challenges of life can be overcome and to ignore the labels that people can attach to you that don’t reflect your true self. I will never forget you Barbara. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  7. My client Bev allowed me to live in to the fullness of my self. Through the flow of that process I allowed a deeper piece

  8. My client Bev was a beautiful testament to the type of pain one can survive. She tested my clinical skill- and at the same time She provided safety for me to bring more “me” into the room. As I allowed myself to be more present and see the impact that had for her healing, I noticed a shift in my ability to be more authentic in my process with clients- and saw the impact that had. Thank you Bev for letting me see that I am more than my interventions.

  9. In thinking about the gratitude for the gifts my art therapy clients have given me as a new therapist… I realize the four that come to mind, their names all start with M this … Is the gift of miracles, and ironic today is thanksgiving and also Hanukkah, celebrating the miracle of light. These clients have taught me about the light of their spirits and the light of my own:
    M1 has taught me at a young age about creating thru mental and physical illness, about intuition and inner fire. We create together, my art is stronger when we create together, it is true trusting collaboration and wisely… And metaphorically, she advised me to utilize embrace and appreciate the white space.
    M2 has taught me about transforming being bullied for autism as a young adult and transforming that trauma… When negative loops appear, we create and sing” put a little live in your heart”
    M3 has taught me creativity, that process can calm and organize an active mind of a young boy with autism, he is a true artist.
    M4 … In a group of elderly women , I asked for thanksgiving what we each were grateful for, She replied “I am grateful for my joys and my sorrows, that is life…. ” in all of my therapeutic interactions, in my deep listening through the creative process,…. through the art, I always find MIRACLES!!!

  10. joann melaragno says:

    Each and every day, with each client I see, I am privileged to be present with them while they work through struggles or challenges they may be facing. I always remind them of this, especially when I receive a “thank you” from them. During my time as a therapist, I have gained so many wonderful attributes due to the work I do each day. I have been allowed to increase my abilities in so many areas but most important is my deep awareness. I find joy and wonder within each relationship and am grateful to be welcomed and allowed to be present for others.

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