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 Life Caddy 

 

A good golf caddy is said to know the challenges and obstacles of the golf course and the best strategy for playing it. A helpful caddy would know the overall yardage, pin placements, and best club selection at any hole. What do golf and caddies have to do with therapy? At first glance, not much. Besides, engaging in the sport can be therapeutic for some in a not-so-Happy-Gilmore way. I was delighted to hear a client share the unique role and obligation a caddy has to his player. A therapist and caddy’s job sounds metaphorically similar. 

 

My new understanding of a caddy’s role (thanks to my very experienced golfing client) is to support their player by encouraging the player to use all the tools available, pointing out their blind spots, knowing the landscape, and giving them the best “club” to reach their full potential (best self) in the game. A professional caddy needs to know the individual’s skills and goals as well as the strengths and the challenges they bring to the table. As a therapist, I, too, join with my clients and have a similar objective. I remind them of obstacles and sand traps they may be vulnerable to during their life course (spending time with their critical mother or tendencies towards perfectionism or cognitive distortions). Their treatment planning is collaborative- they tell me what they need and want to achieve. We sometimes carry the bag and pass the best tool/golf club for the challenges ahead. The driver: Mindfulness for rumination. The wedge: Routine and gratitude for depression. The good old trusty putter- Meditation, endless benefits. Our mission doesn’t stop getting you to the green (landing the dream job, creating a stronger marriage, or battling imposter syndrome.)

We want you to play the course using your values and finding meaning. As with being a caddy- a therapist needs to be supportive and accompany you through all aspects of the course, being encouraging, knowledgeable, and validating. In the job title of professional caddy, you respect boundaries and uphold professionalism, just as in psychotherapy, despite the role being incredibly intimate. We are all up close and personal. Caddies need to be attuned to the needs of the players and keep them motivated, as do we with our clients. 

 

The game of golf is challenging, infuriating, exhilarating, fulfilling, and worth it, as is living. Playing the game can bring forth many emotions similar to those in our daily lives. Why go at it alone? The effective therapist (and caddy) is willing to say the hard truths to the client/player that others may not be willing to say. In the position of an emotional caddy, therapists can help you improve your game and build confidence in your abilities in those difficult moments. So, my dear friend, play well and swing easy. We will see you at the next tee time/session.

Onward, 

Mandy 

 

Mandy enjoys writing in her free time and has previously contributed to the family website Macaroni Kids CarlsbadShe and her publisher, Erika Veduccio, were featured on The Coast News and SD Voyager.

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