Lifelong Learning Programme

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Personal Experience

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Listening is my job

Language: English
Country: Italy
Typology: health care professionals
Listening is my job. As a psychologist, I have always worked with narration. But the more time passes the more I realize how listening is far from simple. Often, but it would be more correct to say always, when we listen we project a lot about us. We hear only what we want and we understand just what makes us comfortable. And this not only in everyday life, but also in professional life. If what I say is true, and unfortunately it is, you can understand how the message of our patients gets distorted by our bias, prejudices and knowledge. The case I want to share is very short and significant: for a long time, a patient of mine had been telling me about the onset of some phobias related to sexuality. The phobias emerged after two encounters with prostitutes, the second many years after the first. The patient emphasized different feelings about the two experiences. Initially I didn’t consider them because of some of therapeutic preconceptions. Only by "paying attention" to the words of the patient, going back and analyzing step by step the two events, we found the real problem. The real problem was only partially linked to sex. The real problem was the need to retain control, fear of losing control. This shift of focus allowed us to work much more effectively. Narrative medicine has helped me to reconsider the role of the patient. Although in my practice I give a great deal of space to patients, it is still difficult to consider them co-therapists. But this is exactly the role they should, have, since it is only with them and not against them that we can build effective treatments.

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