The Clinical Gaze
Walking into the therapists office, you sit down, look up at your therapist, and behold his or her eyes peering at you and assessing your mental status before you even speak. It is at that very moment that the floodgates of emotions, insecurities, vulnerabilities open up. You glance back at your therapist as he or she nods in acknowledgment of your confession, and then, without further hesitation, your therapist gives you the receipt of your admission with that sweet verbal re-assurance and self-soothing body language and verbal queues only experienced in the therapeutic setting.
This discussion is intended to provide agency to a new term: the clinical gaze. My intention isn’t to prove its existence, but instead, allow the reader to realize its very real power in the therapists inventory of techniques to drive treatment forward. The clinical gaze is more than an awkward glance from your therapist during pauses in the conversation. While he or she may utilize the gaze to ultimately reach inside of silences, the skill was already undeniably deployed with clinical precision and already ebbing the flow of future conversation in session. The gaze is multidimensional, trans-rhetorical, and resistant to the push back of clients that disagree with its insight.
I am suggesting the gaze extends beyond the dimensions of the therapy room. In doing so, the gaze is trans-rhetorical. Simply stated, it is not bound up by the limits of the therapists language and verbal skills to take up the reigns of treatment. The gaze shares a frontier with the client’s capacity to dig into his or her psychological landscape without ultimately collapsing from the exhaustion of the demands of the conversation. In this sense, the gaze has a pull, a draw that isn’t feared by the object of its shadow, but instead, fed by the client’s desire to bring his or her problems to volition as cogently as the rules of speech allow for speaking without pressure and thought blockage.
Blockages in language, and even the rules of consistent speech seem, too, to fall under the gaze’s clinical auspices in the therapy room. Have you ever looked directly into the therapist’s gaze and felt compelled, without any fear, to make that leap in insight and reach one final “ah, ha!” moment in session before the time has elapsed and the gaze is traded in for an appointment card? I have felt my own heart drop when the gaze has lifted and I was forced to walk back into the gates of my life and leave the asylum of the gaze and its many energies. These are energies which lift spirt and hurl the tired, the weak, and hopeless into the spirit of living.
The gaze can decipher the difference between a person making a life sustaining decision and coach his or her clients through eye contact alone to choose life and have the confidence in living that only real peace of mind can shelter it in your darkest hour. Indeed, the gaze is soul-nourishing, fate-producing, and will continue to drive treatment in the directions of clients ever compelled by its force to take the unknown and mark it, destine it, without the therapist even uttering a word.
Poised between silence, and the chatter of volition, the gaze is perched and marking its next target for your goals whatever they may be. Are you ready to step into its shadow and become the victim of limitless success? Step into the therapists office, and surrender to the gaze before you attain your dreams, and lose sight of the present because you have everything you’ve ever dreamt.