This therapy will fail!

“Some patient called me and asked me about fearing pigeons. In my opinion, this is the best way to ignore herself. She is forcing me to talk about pigeons instead of herself. As a result, I think the therapy will be failed just before beginning. What do you think?” Thanks to one of our community members for asking this question!
How can we know if the therapy will fail? We have not met her yet. If we do not sit with her and explore, how can we know her capacity, her degree of motivation, even her other difficulties. If we give up before we have met her, we are responding to our own projections (She is hopeless.), not to her.
Instead, we need to be the welcoming openness in which the unknown of this woman may be revealed to us and to her. Due to our fear of the unknown, the patient as mystery, we are often tempted to “predict” [fancy word for therapist projection]. Instead, we must let go of our desire to “know” her before we have had the chance to come to know her. And we must let go of our desire that she be a certain way. Otherwise, we will be relating to our desire, not to her.
She will “force” you talk about pigeons? She must have very great powers to do such a thing! In my experience, no patient can “force” me to do anything. She can ask me to do something. I can say yes to her and no to myself, and then blame her for my choice. Or I can say no to her and yes to myself. Or it may be saying yes to her feels like a yes to me too, and then I’ll do it. If she insists on talking about pigeons rather than her inner life, this can be dealt with as we would with any defense involving self-neglect.
And let’s not forget. No matter how much I know a patient even after a therapy, she is always something other and greater than any idea I can have about her. Can we accept that we do not know the future of this patient? Can we let go of our ideas which are a substitute for living with, being with, another person? Can we bear this unknown we enter into each day? The challenge of therapy: how to be the welcoming openness to the mystery that is another person.

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