One of the perennial questions children ask their parents is “Who’s your favorite?” And if you are a parent like me, you have lied. You’ve looked them straight in the eye and said, “You are, of course, but don’t tell the others.” And off they go, satisfied that they hold a singular place in your heart. And off you go, breathing a sigh of relief and hoping they don’t ask again, but they do! And in the answering, you hopefully pause for a moment to reflect on just what it is about that one child, or each of the children, that you admire so.

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And so it is as this year approaches its end and I my third year with, that I pause to reflect on the blogs, articles, and interviews I had the privilege of ushering into the world. But I don’t struggle over which ones are my favorites, nor do I need to lie when I say, “Yours is!” I am truly proud of all the fine essays from and conversations with clinicians, clinical educators, and researchers that I have had these months. I look upon the body of written work to which many of you have contributed, and I am thankful for the wisdom, insights, and experiences you’ve shared. And for that I am deeply grateful.

While the range of topics covered this year has been impressively broad and far-reaching, the content of each of the essays and interviews has been intimate and personal. Transference and countertransference, challenging pathology, traditional and non-conventional treatments, aging, mortality, and systemic treatment issues were among the rich and insightful reads. With each, I have deepened my appreciation for the fascinating nature of the human condition, its tricky and sometimes unfathomable twists and turns and the therapeutic challenges of addressing them.

But this year was different, and so too was the content it inspired.

It was a year of all-too-familiar and volcanic social upheaval rooted in the seemingly never-ending and painful reality of racism. But there you were, clinicians working at the cutting edge of racial unrest and discomfort as it unfolded in the microcosm of psychotherapy, sharing the intimacies of uncomfortable yet necessary conversations.

It was a year ushered in by a global pandemic that sunk its unforgiving and undiscriminating teeth into American society with a vengeance born of nature and perpetuated by its populace. Many died and are still dying, many more suffered and still do, families were separated, individuals isolated, and the medical system still strains to breaking. But there you were, clinicians tending to mental health needs of victims and survivors alike who struggled to make sense of the physical and financial upheaval alongside the deeper despair and wounding that comes with fear, powerlessness, isolation, and existential angst. And in the midst of it you also found your way to writing about resolve, resourcefulness, and repair.

It was also a year when telehealth finally caught on in a grand way, not by choice in most cases, but of necessity. Those of us familiar with virtual counseling made the transition with relative ease, while many others struggled to leave safe and familiar carpeted office confines behind to venture into unfamiliar digital domains. But there you were once again, clinicians demonstrating the flexibility and resourcefulness necessary to help those in your charge to respond to the many crises in their lives. You saw both sides of telehealth, and as frontline correspondents, brought the challenges and benefits of remote counseling to your colleagues.

So which were my favorites? Yours, of course. And I look forward to more, many more.

Thank you all, we appreciate you and the hard work you do in and out of therapy.

Lawrence Rubin, PhD, ABPP

File under: The Art of Psychotherapy, Musings and Reflections, COVID-19 Blogs