My New Therapist Friend is Awesome, Yells a Lot

There are generally three scenarios when I will directly address loud patients in the waiting room of my office suite:

1) They are bothering the client who is currently in my office
2) They are bothering me
3) I am in a very bad mood

Reason # 3 has only happened one time in my entire career, and I apologized soon afterwards. Numbers 1 and 2, though, aren’t unheard of by any stretch. Therapists often use white noise makers or music in the waiting area to help drown out voices coming to and from the office. However some people, especially New Yorkers, easily overpower these feeble instruments, making it difficult for both client and therapist to focus on the problems being addressed. As soon as my concentration gets impaired because of outside noise, I immediately begin to perceive my client as being cheated. He paid for a session and deserves my full time and attention. That’s when I tend to take out my can of Shut-Your-Mouth, open my office door and politely but firmly ask anyone in the waiting room to do shut up.

As I had mentioned I recently moved into a new office suite. The noise reduction there isn’t bad at all, but on one recent day there were two adolescent girls in the waiting room with their father. I had never seen them before and I’m guessing the kids were somewhere between 11-17 [1]. The two youths were yelling at each other at a banshee-like volume, something about the Jonas Brothers or something, with the father speaking equally loudly for them to be quiet.

“Is that noise bothering you?” I asked my client.

She looked a little flustered. “Not really,” she said.

Sometimes clients don’t want to appear rude or demanding, and it was so noisy that, in retrospect, my question was pretty stupid. It had to have been bothering her. It sure as hell was pissing me off.

At that moment I heard a door open. It was from one of the other offices. Someone spoke. Loudly.

“Excuse me! Shut up! Damnit you shut up now! This is a professional office and your behavior is reproachful! It sickens me. All three of you should be ashamed of yourselves! Rubbish!” Slam.

It was one of the therapists who shares the suite. “Rubbish” isn’t a term that immediately jumped to mind when thinking about the loud trio in the waiting area, but it apparently got the job done. You could hear a pin drop for the remaining 38 minutes of our session.

“Wow,” the client said. “Well said.”

“Yeah, that was kind of impressive.”

“Do you think that shrink has an anger management problem or something?”

With all of the yelling it crossed my mind that all four of them out there had anger management problems. As discussed, anger has a purpose. It’s an alarm, a potential sign to assert yourself and protect your rights. If we didn’t experience anger we might simply get stepped on by anyone who wanted to take advantage of us. Clearly the therapist next door wasn’t about to let that happen. However, anger becomes problematic when it impairs your quality of life and/or leads you to engage in extreme behaviors that are damaging to yourself or others. Assuming this therapist didn’t need to do deep breathing for fifteen minutes and didn’t start honing a steak knife after the confrontation, calling this an ‘anger management problem’ is a little strong.

“I’m going to say no, especially if this was an isolated incident. The people were pretty annoying, disrupting the office and they deserved to be called out. The reaction was a little strong, but it’s not like that therapist came out and beat them.”

“Well, hopefully that therapist doesn’t carry any weaponry.”

I intend to learn more about this…assertive person who works in my suite. But thanks is certainly required for establishing order in the office. Because if it were up to me, anger problem or not, I would have smashed them all in the head with my DSM-IV.

[1] I’m unusually bad with guessing ages. I once asked a new client for her Medicare card and it turned out she was only 41.

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18 Responses to “My New Therapist Friend is Awesome, Yells a Lot”

  1. Sean says:

    You really went out of your way to avoid disclosing the gender of this… assertive person who works in your suite, Rob. Heh
    Trying to cover up a new office crush?

  2. Amber says:

    Your new…assertive person…totally cracks me up. If I had been in your office at the time I probably would have fallen off my chair laughing. Good on your suitemate for not spouting off some obscene rubbish…I would have. Then again I’m not as caring and professional.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Anger management problem? I think if I had been more assertive like this when it really counted (I just usually suck it up), I think that life would have turned out better for me.

  4. A round of applause for your new suitemate. I’m pretty sure I never would have done that, but if it worked it worked!
    P.S. Yikes about the Medicare incident!

  5. Lidia says:

    I just have one question for you Dr. Rob, Is this new therapist “friend” a man or a woman?

  6. Ironman says:

    I would dearly love to see you assert yourself in a situation where you aren’t restrained.
    You, me, Gris, a college bar in Calgary – let’s have at the SOBs!

  7. Joe says:

    The most amusing anger problem I have ever seen was a frat brother who used to take the paper out of the recycling bins and throw it away. He was angry at what he saw as liberal encroachment on his way of life. Its not like he was quiet and passive about it, he used to announce what he was doing.

  8. Matt says:

    Hey, I saw you on tv.
    Dr. Rob: Oprah or Dr. Phil?

  9. Robin B says:

    Nice post, Dr. Rob.

  10. sandy says:

    I had this happen recently. It was a little kid banging away at a drum or using a toy truck like a drum. After bearing up for a good few minutes, I opened the door and politely signaled “shhhh” to both the child and the parent who was napping nearby. But I’m pretty sure I had a snarly grimace on my face.

  11. Matt says:

    I saw you on a show called Weird Connections, right at the end. It was an episode about eating or something. I don’t watch Oprah or Dr. Phil.
    Dr. Rob: Damnit! I filmed that last July and they told me that my segment was going to be cut. If anyone knows how to get that clip please let me know.

  12. Beth says:

    This post made me laugh my ass off. I’d have yelled too!

  13. […] interrupting a session. One of the therapists in my suite – the same one who turned into a screaming ball of anger at the loud clients a few months ago – made what some might consider a bold move: released […]

  14. Molly Moore says:

    my best friend has been in an Anger Management class for 2 months now, he improved a lot when dealing with anger.”:;

  15. Lidia says:

    You never answered my question, huh?

  16. Maya Bailey says:

    Anger Management is necessary to prevent raging men in the streets..*:

  17. most of us would need some anger management therapy if we are on very stressful jobs”,”

  18. Kenneth Krush says:

    Wow, she’s quite the piece of work.