Unsent Letter to my Client before Rosh HaShana

Dear_____,

Well, it’s been quite a year.


At this time, we have a custom to take interpersonal stock and make amends.


Thank you for entrusting me with your thoughts, feelings, and goals.


It’s a privilege to work with you. I believe and hope we are accomplishing.


Going to therapy involves courage and vulnerability, and I try to honor that, and treat it with care.


But I’m a fallible human, and I need to apologize- for the times that I may not have known what you needed to hear, or what would have been helpful to say- I’m sorry.


If I misunderstood you or said something that inadvertently and unnecessarily added to your pain. I hope you know it was never deliberate, but regardless I apologize.


If I ever said or did anything that resulted in you feeling that I didn’t respect your time, your money, your intelligence, or your ability- for that too, I apologize.


If I ever seemed distracted, or not empathetic enough, I’m sorry.


If my approach was ever too tough or too gentle, too clinical or too personal, too direct or too subtle, I’m sorry.


You may be aware that the actual custom is to ask others for forgiveness, but I don’t actually believe that is appropriate here. See, I am here to serve you, and so I want to apologize in case I’ve wronged you. Asking forgiveness would be asking you to do something for me, which is not the nature of the therapeutic relationship. So I do hope that you forgive me, and if there is anything that happened that would be relevant to our work together, then it would probably be worthwhile to discuss it. But I don’t actively request forgiveness; it should never be your job to take of me.


In fact, you may never even see or hear this message. Because the whole notion of mixing religious practice with therapy practice is tricky and subjective. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of speaking our common language and culture, of integrating your values and faith into healthy psychological function. But at other times religious content can confound the clinical integrity of therapy. And perhaps that too, may be worth an apology: if I’ve ever over-, under-, or mis-applied your spirituality or religious beliefs in our work together, I’m sorry for that too.


So, dear client, I hope you know that I care about you- not just professionally, but as a fellow human, with a Divine soul. That I pray for you and for your wellness, and wish you and your loved ones all manner of blessing for the upcoming year: health- mental and physical, wealth- work that is fulfilling personally and financially, happiness, meaningful relationships, and success in all the ways that truly matter.


The word shana means year, but also change. L’shana tova- to a good year, and good changes.

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© 2021 by Elisheva Liss