The knock at the door came just one minute before the appointed time for the introductory meeting. René opened the door wondering what kind of man he was going to see. Standing at the door was a man about fifteen years younger than René and about the same height. He was just slightly overweight with a dark complexion suggesting that he was either of Latin American descent or perhaps southern European.
“I assume that you’re Doctor Beauchemin,” the man said as he reached out a hand to shake René’s hand. “I’m Richard Ranger, we talked on the phone earlier.”
“Yes, yes,” René said making sure he smiled as he shook Richard’s hand. “Not Doctor Beauchemin; it’s René Beauchemin. Please come in.”
René led Richard into the vestibule and showed him where to put his coat and outdoor shoes. “You can wear a pair of those slippers if you want,” he offered as he pointed to a several pairs by the coat rack. “My housekeeper has a fit if I wear shoes or boots on her clean floors.” Richard then followed as René went down the hallway to his office. He could sense Richard glancing at the wall hangings as we walked.
“You’ve a nice place.”
“Thank you. Here we are. Let’s sit by the window so we can enjoy the sun while we have a chat.” René guided Richard to an old basket chair he had rescued a long time ago. There was a small table just in front of the chair with a box of tissues on it. “Would you like some tea of coffee?” he offered.
“Tea would be good, thank you,” Richard answered as he sat.
Richard looked a little uncomfortable in new surroundings and René knew that he would speak more openly if he was given a few extra minutes to get his bearings.
“I’m just brewing some Earl Gray tea? I could make different tea if you’d like – green tea, black tea?”
“Earl Gray is perfect, thank you.”
“Cream or sugar?”
“None, thanks,” Richard replied. “Straight up is best for me.”
“Great! Make yourself at home and look around my office. I shouldn’t be too long.”
When René returned with two mugs filled with tea and a few cookies which he knew Richard would avoid eating. Richard was looking at the books on the shelves against one wall.
“There we are,” René said as he placed the tray with cookies and tea on the table. “Help yourself to a few cookies while we have a visit. Now, Richard, how can I help you?”
Richard declined the cookies, they always do when they come to the office for the first time. It’s as though to accept the cookies would indicate a commitment that they were still unsure about. René guided the conversation so that he gave Richard a chance to relax while gathering the information needed to begin his file should Richard decide to come back. René had a good memory and so he didn’t have to take notes while they chatted.
“I don’t know if you can help me,” Richard admitted as his shoulders slumped and his head tilted forward a bit as though he was being overcome by a huge burden on his shoulders.
“What is making you feel this way? What weight are you carrying that needs to be released?”
“I don’t really know . . . maybe it’s simply that I am a lie, have been living a lie for so long that I don’t know who I really am . . . maybe it’s because I can’t feel anymore . . . maybe it’s because my wife . . .”
With those final words spoken, he stopped leaving the rest of his thoughts unvoiced. Tears appeared at the edge of his eyes. It wasn’t difficult for René to realise that Richard’s real problem was what is called, a loss of soul in depth psychology. When the wife is included in the litany of complaint, the psyche points to a wounded soul. Richard was caught in the throes of a midlife crisis. René knew that this was going to be a long process if Richard decided to continue to come for sessions. René pointed to the box of tissues beside his seat.
“Tell me, Richard, what kind of work do you do?” René questioned, shifting the direction of Richard’s thoughts.
“I’m a prof, an IT prof, Information Technology. I teach at a local college.”
“Are you still lecturing, or are you on sabbatical?” René asked as his answer would help figure out where and when we could continue if Richard should decide to begin a series of counselling sessions.
“I’m still lecturing.”
The hour passed quickly with a good deal of background information obtained. Much of what Richard told René was about how much he loved his wife and kids and how they were the perfect family. Just before the end of the session, René asked Richard what his intentions were for follow-up sessions.
“I would like to come back to talk with you again. You made it easy for me this afternoon. I have to admit that I feel a lot better than when I came in,” he added. “How much do I owe you for this session?”
“There’s no charge for the first one,” he informed Richard. “Future sessions will be at my regular rates,” I said as I handed him a small brochure his daughter had made for him. “When do you plan on returning? I understand that since you are at a bit of distance from here, we can’t exactly have regular sessions once a week.”
“Would it be possible for us to have week-end sessions, say Friday evenings or Saturdays, or even Sundays?”
“Let me see,” René replied as he opened my day planner and searched the pages to find out what his plans were for the next month. He didn’t have to search his planner as he already knew that he had nothing planned. “I can see you every second week-end until the week before Christmas beginning next week. I could arrange a Saturday afternoon session followed by a Sunday morning session each week-end you come. How does that sound to you? We can plan further sessions at our last series of sessions in December if you feel you want to continue the work.”
“That works for me,” Richard said with relief evident as the tension left his forehead. “I’ll be here.”
“Good. Say about two in the afternoon on Saturday and eleven in the morning on Sunday? Now, Richard, I have some homework for you to do. I want you to keep a journal of your feelings; what happened before the feelings arose, and how you dealt or didn’t deal with them. Also, if you have any dreams along the way, write them down as well. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just enough words to capture the feelings and images.”
“The times work for me,” Richard agreed with relief. “I will get a journal and record the information for you.”
The session was over. René led him back to the vestibule for his jacket and shoes before seeing him out the door.