Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Congratulations! You’ve finished your graduate classes. You have your diploma. You’ve completed your internships. Now you’re ready to start seeing clients. Well, almost. There are a few more things we need to impart to you before you can hang the placard on your office door that says: “Therapist.”

First of all, you need to change your hair. Yes, it’s a perfectly fine haircut, but it’s too flat. As a therapist you need frizzy hair. It needs to stick out and be a bit unruly. I suggest a loose perm. Why do you need frizzy hair? Well, actually it’s a trade secret. But I can tell you that it has something to do with distracting clients from your drooping eyes when you’re bored stiff by their constant yammering about “unmet needs” and neglectful parents. Also it has something to do with hypnotism and sleight of hand. We can tell you more when everything is official.

Next, you need scarves—lots and lots of brightly colored scarves. And you need to learn to tie them around your neck in jaunty knots. Of course, you wonder, what if I were a male therapist? Well, it’s not an issue since male therapists don’t exist. Why scarves? No, silly, it’s not so you can have something to give a client when they tear up because of the masterful question you pose which exposes some unbelievably deep hurt in their life. Actually, we don’t really know why therapists wear scarves. Perhaps it’s so you have something to juggle when clients don’t show up (which, by the way, happens all the time. It is a little known fact that some of your most successful therapists spend seven to eight hours a day seeing no one, and still get paid by insurances).

Then, you need to use these patented pastel-colored paints for your office walls. They appear to be colors that will sooth and calm anxious patients. Actually, it’s not the colors that matter, it’s the fact that you can wash blood off the walls with these paints. I don’t know if they told you this in graduate school, but you should expect at least one or two patients to commit suicide in your office each week.

Finally, here is your clipboard and some pads of paper. This is where you will appear to take notes on what your client is saying. Actually, the pads of paper are specially made for therapists. If you look at the pad from an angle it looks like lines of neatly handwritten notes. But, from straight-on, it is actually games of Soduku. Soduku is a great way of keeping your brain alert and in condition for those moments when your client “might” reveal something of significance; such as a lurid affair or the fact that he or she keeps a beaver costume in their closet and likes to wear it when they dance their little frolicking animal dance for their forest of animal friends. Not that there is anything wrong with believing in and, actually, worshiping a small menagerie of invisible animals that live in your closet and only come out to dance for you. Lots of perfectly sane people love to frolic, right?

I see they taught you in graduate school how to nod quietly and intone “Mmm” and “Uh-huh”. Actually, you are quite good at it.

Good luck, Therapist!

Russell Bradbury-Carlin gave up his corporeal existence long ago. He now exists only as a series of bytes and electrical impulses distributed through out the internet. You can visit aspects of him (the humorous parts, anyway) here at Yankee Pot Roast and at McSweeney’s, Science Creative Quarterly, The Big Jewel , as well as other sites. But if you are interested in visiting with him in his most condensed form, check out his Web site, All My Shoes and Glasses. Please note: if you visit his site between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., please be quiet—that is when he sleeps.

Pimposium: A Rediscovered Platonic Dialogue Socrates: I suppose you know, that it's hard out here for a pimp?

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