The right change at the right time

Susan Tesch, MS, LMFT | Psychotherapy & Counseling

Susan Tesch, MS, LMFT | Psychotherapy & Counseling

Turning Points

I spend quite a bit of time working on songwriting. I did this early in adulthood, but stopped for a few decades and have returned to it in a more feverish way. Though I don't have delusions, I joke a lot that it's going to lead to something BIG and grand during my "empty nest" years. Music feels endlessly interesting and like it will never grow tiresome. Except when it does. Lately, it's been striking me that it's exhausting to always be working on a song lyrics in my head, or pieces of a melody. (It seems the worse the song, the more I fuss and obsess over it, trying desperately to make it good.) I feel like I'm always pregnant with some new song I'm trying to give birth to and it requires a kind of preoccupation that is wearing on me as I write. Meanwhile, a young person I know from community college where I took some music classes just invited me to like his band's Facebook page. As I did so, I listened to several of their songs, and acknowledged again to myself that my songs belong to a different era--the singer-songwriter era--where songs served a different purpose from what they do now. Do we really need more songs like the ones from the 1960-70s? I'm not so sure. So now what? I'm tired. I'm middle-aged. My generation is dying off, and these are probably the people who would most relate to my songs.'s time to regroup. I need to change something about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it so that I get more enjoyment out of it, but so that it still feels important somehow. I'm at a turning point. 

I always appreciate the difficulty of a client at a turning point. Sometimes a change in life circumstances creates the turning point, even to the point of crisis. But often I've noticed that when somebody idealizes someone or something, such as I've idealized songwriting, and the idealization starts to fade, it creates a meaning vacuum. That's where I am. If I can stand it long enough, I'll find a new approach. But, as Ringo Starr sang (so satisfyingly!), "It Don't Come Easy."

The Right Change at the Right Time

For over a year, I've been thinking of redoing my website. At last, with the help of an excellent designer, Lila Hurwitz at Doolittle+Bird, I've finally done it! Lila pushed me to think in new ways about how I practice and suggested I come up with a tagline that expresses something about my philosophy as a therapist. I came up with "The Right Change at the Right Time" because as a therapist I try to make change feel appealing, rather than threatening, and I do think my job is to help people make changes that truly feel right and bring about a better quality of life.


But most people don’t really want to change! And it’s not just people who don’t want to change; in the world of physics, matter itself doesn't "want" to change…unless a force acts upon it. That property of matter (and people!)  is called “inertia.” For me, my web designer was the force acting upon me to help me redo my website. She helped me overcome my inertia and get my website going in a new direction. Now that it is done, I can let some inertia settle in, but I will have to be my own force for overcoming my own inertia by adding new blogs, going forward. It will take work!

Thoughts After Neurobiology Conference in New York

In October I attended a neurobiology conference that focused on “Attachment.” Neuroscience has shown that a human’s brain, which controls the central nervous system and therefore the entire body, depends upon good, emotionally-responsive human connection in order to develop and thrive. When our deep relationships go haywire, we go haywire. Establishing emotional connection between myself and a client is at the heart of how I work. It comes from years of training as well as an instinctual sense that what people really want is to be understood by another person who cares.

Shortly after I returned from my trip, I stumbled upon a news article about recently-developed androids that are being created to be as human-like as possible. Their “skin” is flexible, they can smile, they blink intermittently, make jokes, etc. Their inventors hope that eventually, these androids can learn new algorithms from human interactions, and communicate these algorithms to other androids through the cloud. The hope is that androids will surpass humans in their sophistication, intelligence, and even compassion!!

Now, of course, I’m impressed by the ingenuity that leads to technological advances, but—sheesh! Everything I hold dear in my heart has to do with emotional connection in relationships. Emotional connection requires animal instincts, which is why I can’t get excited about a world in which my human instincts are forced to look into the “eyes” of an android and interact as if that android were really human. It never will be, in my humble opinion. But I’m pretty sure I’ll have no choice but to interact with androids. Here we go…

Still, I’ll be a “little warrior” for establishing emotional connection based in human (and animal!) instincts so long as I’m here. While relationships hurt more than anything else in life when the go awry, they also bring the most reward. It’s a gamble I’m willing to make each time I try to make contact with another instinctual being.