As a therapist I have a slightly lower tolerance to proximity to my patients than most of my colleagues. I don’t like them sitting so close I feel we are breathing the same air or she is sucking off my limited life energies. Therefore, before every session I arrange the chairs as far as possible from me. Nevertheless, there are needy patients who will enter the room and move their chairs as close to me as possible, preferably knee to knee. The resultant closeness impairs my concentration and I start to fidget and “accidentally” kick the patient while crossing my legs. I apologize and suggest she push her chair back as I am trapped with my desk behind me.
“Oh, that’s OK,” she inevitably says. “I don’t mind.”
This is the usual response of someone whose habit of invading personal space means she gets kicked a lot. For her, it is positive contact. These are all people who were neglected as children. Any physical contact is good.
published 23 June 2013