Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Cab Driver Story: Single Session Psychotherapy


Another story came out of the APA conference that Dinah wanted me to blog about.

I was in a cab going to pick up Dinah for dinner. The cab driver found out I was a psychiatrist so he told me about his life-changing experience with therapy. At one time he was having an incredible problem with his life. He was using cocaine, couldn't keep a job and his relationships were going down the tubes. Therapy helped him quit cocaine and change all that. (Which was good, since he was the driver of my cab. I really wanted him not to be high or in distress.) This kind of turn-around story isn't unusual for me; parolees will often come back and tell me about things they've done in free society that they're proud of.

The unusual part of this story is the fact that he made all of these changes after a single one hour session.

OK, that got my attention. What was it about this therapist?? What happened in the session?? I had to ask all the questions.

The cab driver told me that it wasn't so much what the therapist said, but rather who she was. She was a kindly, older woman who was sincere and compassionate. She told him he needed to start taking care of himself, eat better, get enough sleep, etc etc.

And that worked. Geez, I was impressed. It changed his life. The last remaining habit he wanted to fix was his smoking. He wanted to go back and see his therapist again, but she had retired. He was sorry he couldn't go back, and so was I.

That's my cab driver story.

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Wait, says Dinah (who added the pic and subtitle): you told it in a more dramatic fashion at the time. He was running 8 miles a day now. There was a religious/spiritual component, something profound about the experience and about the therapist. Oy...we'll never make a novelist of you, Clink.