Friday, June 12, 2009

what the dentist pulled out

My dentist draws some strange things from me. Not teeth... you'd maybe expect that at the dentist but thankfully I received the all clear this visit. No fillings, no removal, no need to even clean them. My teeth are in tip top shape. (Having said that, I am realising teeth tell an interesting tale of aging. My face may be unmarked, but my un-whitened, un-capped teeth are starting to give me away. I've taken to peering hard into other people's mouths to test my aging teeth theory)

No, my dentist draws strange, almost sardonic lines from out my mouth. He's a rather abrupt, jocular English fellow, quick with a quip and full of witticism about life. Perhaps that's his way of putting clients at ease, maybe it sustains him through the halitosis and decay confronting him every day, or quite possibly it is the only way to cut straight to meaningful conversation in the course of a ten minute checkup. Whatever it is, I find myself unable to give a simple, straight answer to his searching one-liners. Instead derisive snorts (it's hard to talk with your mouth full of steel implements) or wry reflections burst out of me.

Take the other day as an example. I had just picked up three counselling text books from the post office and was flipping through one while I waited for my appointment. 'Don't you like our magazines? Have to bring your own reading material?' he said as we walked through to his room. I sheepishly admitted to wanting to get into my study early.

Between forays into the gaps between my teeth he asked me why I was studying counselling. That's when I snorted derisively and said I couldn't remember now. What I didn't say was that I feel rather disgruntled with the whole affair and seriously don't know if I will ever pursue counselling as a career.

As I sat on the edge of the dentist chair, regaining my composer, wiping the last of the dribble from my chin and breathing a sigh of relief at my dental reprieve, the dentist supposed that counselling is only worth it if people want to change. And that's just it. What if people don't want to change? What if people can't change? What if the structures and systems of our society keep them stuck where they are and no amount of trying on their part will change things? Counselling is just too individual in its focus for me now.

So there you have it. I went to the dentist and, instead of discovering dental caries, my current thinking on counselling crystalised clearly in my mind. I have one semester, one enormous semester of study to go. I'll finish the course, get my Grad Dip... but I have a feeling I might not ever use it again. We'll see. Right now my thinking has moved on and I see more benefit in helping people by working on the systems that trap them in self defeating cycles. It's not all wasted though... I'll be really good at listening to you next time we talk!

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At 1:30 pm, June 15, 2009, Anonymous deevar said...

can't wait!

At 8:31 pm, October 05, 2009, Anonymous kate said...

You might enjoy reading David Smail:


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