Aaron B. Rochen, Ph.D
If you’ve been in therapy, as a client or therapist, you know the feeling. As the minutes tick away, emotions deepen, new insights are generated.
There is even a playful way of describing this pattern “Doorknob Therapy” reflects clients patterns of sharing significant material toward the end of a session, or even when leaving a room.
The end of the therapeutic hour, sneaks up quickly on clients – particularly when there are no markers on time. Managing these situations or therapeutic time more generally is not easy. And it’s primarily the therapist’s responsibility to handle. With another client in the waiting area, the limits of the 50-minute session are real.
And so is the struggle.
In the Comedy Central Cult Class, “Dr. Katz,” a fictional cartoon therapist used to handle this challenge in his own unique way.
Toward the end of the session, an alarm would trigger Dr. Katz to awkwardly say, “Oops.. you know what that means. Our time is up.”
In the real world, that closer would not go well.
Some therapists handle this challenge by positioning a clock behind their clients. Others talk openly about time with clients, even organizing what they discuss in session at different time intervals.
And then there is Walk Therapy.
In this work, the pace and the path serve as the office clock.
In our walks, I have a point on the path outlining our halfway, return reference. When we walk back, we know exactly how long it will take to reach the office. Once there, we schedule our next session and say goodbye.
Our pace and path dictate time. No alarms nor awkward clock glances.
Sometimes, I’ll use the half way point to shift the focus. As we walk toward the turnaround point, we re-visit goals and discuss new concerns. As we return, our discussions turn toward insight and action.
This nature-based time clock is as anti Dr. Katz like as you get.
Through the process, both therapist and client are easily aware of the time left in our sessions.
Nature can be a powerful clock and closer.
And it never runs out of batteries.