Camp Therapy

November 2021

During my last visit to camp this year, I was joined by a small group of my high school buddies and their wives.  What a pleasure it was to spend evenings before the fire, lounging in pajamas and reminiscing about upstate Rochester in the 1950s.  Missing from the group was our friend Jerry, a retired psychiatrist.  Shortly following our return from camp, we had a zoom call to catch up with Jerry and, to add an interesting dimension to our conversation, to talk about his new book, Addressing Challenging Moments in Psychotherapy. I had obtained an early copy of it which, though written for supervisory doctors, is understandable by the layman. Jer read a chapter aloud to us, which was a case study of one of his therapy sessions, examining the interaction between doctor and patient. He explained the purpose of the study and we peppered him with questions, which he thoughtfully answered.  Before long were each opening up about our personal histories and our catch-up call became an impromptu group therapy session.  No wonder Jerry had such a successful practice—he was a great listener.  Very healthy for a bunch of 80-year-olds to talk about our parents and their impact on our lives—it was cathartic. Even though we have known each other for 70 years, I learned new things about these old friends.  Each of us offered our thoughts on who we were back in the day versus who we became, despite family background and the many hurdles, false starts and mistakes we made. Looking back to our youth, how did we miss some of the obvious signs about where our futures were headed?  How many dead-end roads might well have been avoided had we simply opened our eyes?  In hindsight, perhaps there was a missing subject in the Benjamin Franklin High School 1956 curriculum: “Therapy for Teenagers.”  Yet here we all are living our lives in 2021 America and things turned out okay.  We are mostly settled into lifestyles of our choosing and our mental health seems intact.  Perhaps our parents and the teachers at Ben Franklin knew what they were doing.  To my buddies, Harv, Bobbie, Arnie and Jer, let’s keep zooming and learning from each other. 

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