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The Durabone Prophecies
By Frederick Douglas Harper
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Frederick Douglas Harper
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Chapter OneDenise's Dilemma: Time Running Out
"There are several barriers or challenges that create a catch-22 problem for me in terms of my meeting someone who is an acceptable prospect [for marriage]." [Denise] Washington, DC, June 28, 1999
Denise was punctual for her first counseling appointment with Dr. Franklin Edward Durabone. Upon being announced on the intercom by secretary- receptionist Doneta Nippon, she was escorted to Dr. Durabone's private luxurious office, an office that he had maintained for some 10 years in his relatively lucrative private practice as a licensed psychologist. Mrs. Nippon introduced, "This is Ms. Denise Kittrell." The new client and counseling psychologist greeted each other, as Mrs. Nippon closed the office door for counseling privacy. It was evident that Denise was hesitant about her first experience in counseling for a personal problem or concern. At 6' 4", Dr. Durabone was quite a handsome man in his mid-forties with a Michael-Jordan appearance—athletic build, dark-chocolate smooth skin, chiseled facial bone structure, and closely trimmed hair.
Dr. Durabone extended his right hand in a customary handshake as an attempt to make Denise feel comfortable, "I'm pleased to meet you Ms. Kittrell. Please have a seat," motioning for Denise to sit in any of four comfortable chairs that surrounded a cherry-finished, circular coffee table that matched the wood finish of his large desk that was nearby and facing the wall. The earth-tone comfortable chairs with coffee table presented a relaxed living room atmosphere for easy dialogue.
Dr. Durabone always made a conscious effort to make his clients feel comfortable and psychologically safe, especially in the first session or visit. This was important because most of his clients were professionals who were uncertain about counseling, and they tended to be anxious, if not somewhat ashamed, about being in any type of counseling or psychotherapy—very often for the first time. At about 5' 6" in height, Denise found herself looking up at Dr. Durabone as she shook his hand. Although absorbing his image and mannerisms, she dared not comment on his height or otherwise, as this was a first-time meeting in a professional context.
As an adult, this was Denise's first time seeing a professional counseling psychologist or counselor about any type of problem. She certainly was a little nervous and hesitant, because she just didn't know what to expect. Dr. Durabone waited patiently and politely for Denise to take a seat as she chose a chair closest to the entrance. Seeing that Denise took a seat with her back to the door, Dr. Durabone took a seat to her left so he would not be seated directly across from her. He found, as research indicated, that sitting in front of a client was formal and distant. Also, it often made clients feel that the psychotherapist was staring straight at them if not through them as a know-it- all shrink.
Upon first seeing Denise, Dr. Durabone realized immediately that she was the type of woman who exuded mannerisms to his liking. Denise naturally radiated a modest or apologetic sensual presence in the body and movement of a young woman who was apparently comfortable with and accepting of her femininity and sensuality. Although Denise was attempting to present her reserved and professional persona, her sensual mannerisms and physical attractiveness inadvertently came through with her nervousness. Denise presented a warm and beautifully bashful smile that showed her dimples in both cheeks. She was an Indian brown or Lena Horne brown with that even-skin color, and her mid-length, black curvy-to-curly hair was natural, thick, and healthy in texture. Her childhood friends often commented to her that she had "good hair."
Being naturally attracted to Denise, Dr. Durabone realized that she presented a challenge for him to maintain his composure, objectivity, and professional focus as her counseling psychologist. It was Denise's breathing, the way she tensed and moved her body, the warm expression of her eyes, and the inadvertent and natural curling and movement of her well-formed lips as she talked and listened. Whether her energy was learned, innate, or both, it was a part of her disposition, her essence, her temperament, her raison d'être as a live and breathing woman.
Although rarely, Dr. Durabone had indeed seen this type of sensual energy before, but never in a female client who was in one-to-one counseling with him. However, he did recall several phenomena over his 18 years of university teaching and his years of leading various counseling groups. Regardless of the fact that he was attracted to Denise's image and sensual mannerisms, he could not afford to show such in any expressions of words, excitement, or body language. Nonetheless, he knew that a woman could usually sense if a man liked her in a special way.
Dr. Franklin Durabone had long maintained strict ethical principles about boundaries between himself and his clients and students, principles that were undergirded by his childhood Christian upbringing and his parental admonishments of right and wrong. The old teaching of "don't mix business with pleasure" was stuck in his belief system and, thus, reflected by his superego. When a woman's image and sensual energy really struck him at first sight, he simply would put up a mental stop sign. For example, he would become emotionally disabled by any possible thoughts of responding to what he perceived as sensual signs of interest from a client or student to whom he was strongly attracted.
Dr. Durabone was very seldom reminded by women like Denise that he was vulnerable to his impulses and manhood. Nevertheless, he stamped indelibly in his mind and thoughts that he was the ultimate professional who was also married. In addition, recent charges of sexual harassment at his university made him even more cautious about responding or reacting to any type of sexual flirtation or doing anything at all that could be perceived as sexual harassment or inappropriate sexual behavior with a college student or a counseling client.
Even though Dr. Durabone was prone to good professional judgment and ethical practices, he knew that any successful man who can be sexually attracted by a particular woman or certain women could very well be vulnerable to improper sexual behavior. As a man, he realized that at any point in his professional life that he could drop his guard and allow a professional relationship to change to a sexual encounter that could run amuck. Dr. Durabone felt as if the sword of Damocles hung over his head. Although he was blessed with money and handsome looks, he had to be very cautious when it came to an intimate affair that could spell professional disaster for him. He was reminded of so-called strong men of history who had succumbed to sensually irresistible and persistent women of beauty—cases such as Samson with Delilah and Mark Antony with Cleopatra.
Franklin Durabone was a serious man and very few females caught his eye or rather turned his head. Yet, this last client of the day on this first work day of the week was a rare déjà vu for the doctor of counseling psychology, who, himself, had seen scores of beautiful female clients during his decade of therapeutic counseling and hundreds of attractive female students in his 18 years of university teaching. Yet, he was always curious as to who would walk through the therapeutic door or come to his first meeting of class at Capitol Hill University. As a scholar of human behavior, he remained fascinated by the diversity of human personalities and body types. Franklin Durabone had come to the hypothetical conclusion that each person, regardless of gender or ethnicity, had his or her own energy package. Some people were hyper and anxious, some sluggish and tired-appearing, some confused and drifting, some numbed and dull, some prone to anger and negativism, some inclined to complaints of others and things, some constantly seeking attention through talk and dress, some seeking power and opportunity through manipulation and ingratiation, some projecting the intellectual self, and some projecting the sexual self through their nonverbal behavior, language, and interpersonal style.
It was a little past 5:00 p.m. on this summer Monday of 1999, the only time of day and day of the week that Denise was available to come for counseling, because she had a full-time job, or rather was in medical training as an ob-gyn resident in a large hospital in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. She no longer was the risk-taking undergraduate college student or even the surreptitiously experimenting medical student who found a way and time for occasional excitement. As a full-time professional, she had become conscious of her dress and image, which led her that morning to her sparse but quality wardrobe in order to find a smart, claret-colored misses skirt suit with a hemline that touched at her knees when standing. It was a suit that she had recently purchased from Macy's at the Pentagon Mall. The suit was well tailored from a polyester crepe fabric, and it respectably exposed the outline of Denise's curvaceous hips that were partly covered by her dressy jacket.
While Dr. Durabone's thoughts roamed spontaneously, Denise sat and adjusted her body to the contour of the chair, while taking in the ambiance of the office and the energy and image of her new counseling psychologist. After a quick study of Dr. Durabone's face, she took note of his fashionable attire. She was glad to see that he wasn't an old-fashioned, reserved, tweed-wearing Freudian type; at least, she felt that he didn't appear to be. Denise thought to herself, "Yes, Dr. Franklin Durabone could be mistaken for a GQ model by his dress, height, and good looks." However, in his office setting, there was no mistake that he was the reserved intellectual whose seriousness could not be mistaken or matched—although his politeness and warmth occasionally made known his genuine compassion for people.
Dr. Durabone was conscious to keep his vision focused above Denise's neck and not tilt his visual field downward to her caramel-colored, baby- smooth cleavage that slightly showed in the open space of her white, silk blouse. Although Denise dressed professionally and modestly by color and style, she was the type of woman who could not resist showing some skin and form. She simply wanted to expose, in a respectable way, what she prized as a gift of body and a positive and accepting attitude about every part of her body. As far back as she could remember, subsequent to pubescence, she had a positive, if not exaggerated perception of her physical self-image.
Once Denise was seated comfortably in the soft-cushioned chair and Dr. Durabone observed that she had no further comments or questions, he smiled and spoke in his usual caring but measured voice. "I am here to be of help to you with whatever concern or concerns that you may have. This office is a safe place to share anything about which you want to talk. You can feel and know that whatever you say here will be confidential, that it will not go any farther than these four walls." After a pause to see if Denise had a comment, Dr. Durabone continued, "Of course, there are limits to confidentiality by law, and those examples have been provided to you in writing by my secretary, Mrs. Nippon."
Changing his focus, Dr. Durabone continued, "If it's okay with you, could we start by your telling me how you came to this point or what brought you here for counseling?" Denise took a deep breath to calm down. She nervously pushed her chest forward as she again adjusted her upper back and buttocks to the accommodating contour of the comfortable earth-tone colored soft chair with arm rests. With her feet planted on the floor, thighs touching, knees together, and arms crossed in front of her lower chest as a sign of caution and resistance, she began to address the doctor's request in a controlled and deliberate manner. "I came upon your Web site in my search for a professional counselor. I noticed that you are a licensed psychologist who specializes in helping persons with grief, relationship problems, and sexual concerns." "There," Denise thought to herself, "I've gotten that much out." Dr. Durabone again nodded in a manner so as to communicate listening and acceptance, while attentively waiting for more. After a long pause by Denise, Dr. Durabone spoke softly, "You are telling me that one or a combination of these areas is why you are here today." Denise nodded in an affirmative fashion while gently tensing and tucking her lips as she searched for a verbal or rather oral follow-up to her nonverbal expression. Filling the silence, she stated, "Yes," while appearing lost for additional words. "Well," replied Dr. Durabone in a non-threatening and probing manner, "Do you want to tell me about it?"
By holding back, Denise was forcing her counseling psychologist to respond and nudge her to share her feelings and thoughts. At the same time, she was unconsciously or inadvertently buying time in order to feel him out and become comfortable with his presence before telling him her most intimate secrets. Moreover, she was tired from a long day's work and tense from the drive to Dr. Durabone's office in rush-hour traffic. Denise certainly needed a few minutes to catch her breath and acclimate herself to her first counseling session with a person whom she had never met. Mrs. Nippon had offered a hot drink or a soft drink, but Denise politely refused, thinking that caffeine would just exacerbate her hyped up mood.
Denise smiled and occasionally gave short answers as she attempted to buy more time before discussing her reason for being there. In continuing her diverting tactics, she commented, "I love the soft earth-tone colors of your office—seem to be as peaceful as you are—I mean you are so tranquil and in control of your energy." A pause came, as if Dr. Durabone were expecting a different type of comment, for example, more about why Denise had come for counseling. At the same time, he was using unobtrusive silence in avoiding small talk with a client and recognizing her attempt to resist talking about her problem or concern. After a brief silence, Dr. Durabone thought it was appropriate to offer a "thank you"—with a brief smile, eye contact, and a natural head nod. He recognized that Denise's personal comment could have been a genuine and spontaneous compliment about him and his office, and nothing more. Yet, Dr. Durabone wanted to keep his counseling focus on Denise and her concern, and not allow her personal comments to force him inadvertently into a countertransference response or a personal reaction to possible transference behavior by Denise, that is, Denise's personal comment about his "peaceful" demeanor that she would more likely make within a social context or to a nonprofessional male acquaintance.
Dr. Durabone realized that Denise was waiting for him to comment further while concomitantly searching for what to say next in this uncomfortable beginning. After several minutes of frequent, awkward pauses and silent spots, Dr. Durabone concluded that he needed to facilitate even more the therapeutic process or movement. He realized that there was only one hour to get information out of Denise, rather than allow her to engage in small talk as resistance because of anxiety or even due to a possible unconsciously motivated game playing.
Excerpted from The Durabone Prophecies by Frederick Douglas Harper Copyright © 2011 by Frederick Douglas Harper. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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