Author's Note: This is a collaboration between myself (Miracle) and Ambivalentanarchist (Biv). For the most part I'll be writing the Jasper POV chapters and Biv will be writing the Robyn POV chapters. However, I could never do any of this without her amazing talent and creativity! Robyn is Biv's OC, so please no stealing her. Can't wait to hear what everyone thinks about this EPIC adventure we've decided to take together, so please leave us a note to let us know how we're doing. Love it or hate it, just tell us, and please let us know why. Neither of us are practicing psychotherapists, so if there's anything technical that we messed up on, please don't hesitate to let us know that as well so we can correct it! Thank you so much in advance!
Disclaimer: Twilight and all recognizable persons and settings are the sole property of the amazing SM. Biv and I do not benefit from this writing in any way.
Chapter One: "The Oath"
Tuesday. Intake day. It's not so much that I mind receiving new patients as it is that I never know exactly what to expect. There's only so much that I can glean from reading a patient's chart after all. I never know exactly what I'm getting myself into with a new patient until that first meeting. Some patients come in terrified of what I'll tell them, others come in a little apprehensive, and a very select few come in excited and even joyous. Those are the patients with the most issues. Anyone who's excited to be talking to a shrink definitely needs to take a second look at the priorities in their life. Most patients are fairly straight forward in how they approach these visits. They come in a little scared, shy, maybe a little angry, they slump down on the couch or the chair next to it, whichever they prefer, and stare. They sit and they stare at me. They wait for me to direct the conversation, wait for me to ask them questions about why they're here, wait for me to tell them exactly what they have to do to fix their life. If only it were that simple. But, it's not. Psychotherapy is a long, involved, arduous process that not many humans successfully complete in their short time with me. It takes a lifetime to really adjust to or recover from life's changing circumstances. Whether a patient struggles with depression, dysmorphia, divorce, drugs, drinking, or death, most people don't just sit down in here one day and find the magic cure for whatever ails them. Again, it's a process, and I like to think of myself as their guide through that journey. Sometimes the journey has a completed, resolved, happy ending, and sometimes, the screen goes black and the words to be continued appear in perfect calligraphy. Regardless, it's my job to see them through the entire thing and make sure they get from one part of the movie to the next with as little damage as possible.
There's a cherry frame behind my desk, hanging on the wall just above where my head's shadow usually lands due to the light from my desk lamp. Inside the frame is a plain ecru and gold colored certificate proclaiming that I, Dr. Jasper Whitlock, am a board certified psychotherapist and am licensed to practice in the state of California. It's not the original certificate of course. That one was packed away almost forty years ago, and it was issued for Texas, not California. This one is a fabrication that Jenks created for me. The date on it is less than a year old, and it's more modern looking. Next to the certificate is another cherry frame containing another ecru and gold piece of card stock paper, but this one was the original copy. I received it as a reminder of the oath I took when I accepted my board certification.
Before a doctor can become board certified, they have to appear before a board of their peers. It is their fellow colleagues on that board who are responsible for determining their worth as a psychotherapist. I'm sure that the process is a little different now, but when I first took on the challenge, I was one of fifty candidates invited to present myself to the board in the hopes of earning my final certification. One at a time, we appeared before the board, gave a short summary of our experience thus far in the field and offered up a few insights into the work that we hoped to accomplish with our new designation. They had everything else they needed in front of them, references, proof of education and continuing education, reviews from any internships we had completed, and our personal statement in the form of a cover letter. Only two of the original fifty candidates were denied board certification. The other forty-eight of us appeared before the board as one large group, and took our oath together. The words we recited then and the words hanging on my wall now are exactly the same. Something so strong and powerful is rarely, if ever, changed. Like the Hippocratic Oath that physicians have to take, the Psychotherapist's Oath can be traced back to ancient Greece. Although the lines about assisted suicide and abortion of an unborn child were removed due to the current laws and ethical standards within the US, the heart of the oath remains the same as the original author intended.
As a psychotherapist:
I must first do no harm.
I will promote healing and well-being in my clients and place the client's and public's interests above my own at all times.
I will respect the integrity of the persons with whom I am working, and I will remain objective in my relationships with clients and will act with integrity in dealing with other professionals.
I will provide only those services for which I have had the appropriate training and experience and will keep my technical competency at the highest level in order to uphold professional standards of practice.
I will not violate the physical boundaries of the client and will always provide a safe and trusting haven for healing.
I will defend the profession against unjust criticism and defend colleagues against unjust actions.
I will seek to improve and expand my knowledge through continuing education and training.
I will refrain from any conduct that would reflect adversely upon the best interest of The American Psychotherapy Association and its ethical standards of practice.
It's kind of strange to look back on my life now and see the ways that not only this oath, but also the people who inspired me to take it, forced me to change my entire worldview when I thought I was stuck in a darkness without dawning. I know that it's not the best analogy, since, when dawn comes, I have to lock myself away and avoid it at all costs. But, when it comes to emotional analogies, it's really the only one that I've seen fit to use consistently for the past seven decades. It makes sense to the humans, so I hang on to it.
Life with Maria was like dusk to my human life, the sun set on what I thought was the best part of my existence. I was thrust into a world of pain and chaos. I still shudder at the memories of life during the Southern Wars. It wasn't until Peter and Charlotte came back for me and convinced me to leave with them, leave Maria once and for all, that I even considered the possibility of hope. Sadly, that possibility was very short lived. I soon realized that life on the outside wasn't much better than it had been with Maria. Life was dark. There was nothing to be said for it. So, I gave up. I struck out on my own and believed that eventually, I would die, and that would be the end. Total blackout.
I still don't know why or how, but I found myself in Philadelphia in a small diner on the outskirts of town. That's where I met Alice. I took her hand without hesitation, and for the first time since I was a human, I saw dawn on the horizon. Alice showed me that I could live by feeding on animals instead of humans. That first hunt was a huge relief; it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Animals didn't have emotions. Deer weren't scared. Bears weren't pleading with some invisible force to save them. I thanked Alice for her time and turned to leave, but she stopped me. She said that I would still struggle with the temptation to hunt humans and that if I really wanted to learn to live only on animals, she would take me to a family who would help me learn control. So, I followed her to the Cullens.
I didn't stay long, only a few years, just long enough for the sun to fully rise on my new life. Just long enough for them to talk me into trying something new, to work on actually accomplishing something with the virtually unlimited time that I had. So, I did. I went to college and earned a doctorate degree in clinical psychology. It seemed like the logical thing to do, but I didn't have the courage to actually use it, to actually live and work among humans. But, one phone call with Alice, and two trips to the mall later, the second one under Alice's orders when I failed to buy the correct color tie during the first trip, I found myself in the lobby of Premier Psychological Services in Houston, applying for a job.
I still have contact with the Cullens. They live in a place called Forks, Washington now. We talk every couple of weeks, and I still consider Alice one of my best friends. I know that I can count on her and the Cullens as much as I can Peter and Charlotte, if not more so. Just as they can count on me. I think back on the time not too long ago that they called me and asked me to visit for a week. I found out once I got there the reason they asked me to visit was because there was an army of newborn vampires on their way to attack them, and they wanted my expertise. Not long after that, they called me again to act as a witness in their favor against the Volturi. It seems that my dear "brother" Edward managed to impregnate a human girl. When the hybrid child was born, the Volturi caught wind of it, but they only had half the story. They believed Renesmee to be an immortal child, so the Cullens needed witnesses to Renesmee's growth and change in the weeks leading up to the Volturi's promised visit. I arrived just to have Alice whisk me away in search of further proof of the existence of hybrid human and vampire children, which we found in the form of Nahuel, arriving with him just in time to help prevent an all out war.
Since making that leap of faith into the workplace at Premier, I've been virtually unstoppable. I look old for my age, and thanks to Alice and Rosalie, I also have several styling tips that can help age me enough to fool the humans into thinking that I'm really in my late twenties, when I was just barely nineteen at the time I was changed. It's been a long time since I felt nineteen so acting the part has never been an issue for me. Every now and then a human will comment about how young I look, and that's when I know that it's time for me to move. I never stay in the same area for more than six years. After six, they kind of expect me to start applying for more certifications, and although I could have qualified as a Master Therapist several times over now, that also comes with a certain amount of name recognition, name recognition that I couldn't afford to have if I wanted to continue my current lifestyle. So, I make up an excuse, transfer all my current patients to another therapist and move.
My latest move landed me in San Diego, California, one of the sunniest places in America. I know, I know, that shouldn't be possible. It's dangerous, it's nearly unheard of, but I found out long ago that this job is a very demanding one. I can easily work from sunrise to sunset every day, no questions asked. I don't see patients that entire time of course, but there's always paperwork to catch up on, and independent study classes to help fulfill any continuing education requirements. Besides, I usually take long weekends in order to have time to get out of the city, and go for a hunt. Only allowing myself to feed on weekends is not as difficult as I thought it would be at first. If there's a midweek emergency and I have to eat, the blood bank is literally across the street. The only downside to having a weak moment and being forced to indulge is the contact lenses I have to wear in the days that follow. I don't have any windows in my office, and I'm not close to any of the other therapists in the building, so I never get asked out to lunch.
I'm a good doctor. I have one of the highest clearance rates in the building. Meaning that more of my patients are released and go on to live happy, productive lives than any of the other doctors in the city. I guess that's why the hospital sends me so many red files. The world of psychotherapy is very colorful. Blue files are reserved for children and teenagers. Green files indicate that for whatever reason, we have to take special precautions with a patient. More often than not, those precautions include removing any sharp objects from the room. Red files indicate a patient is required to attend a follow-up appointment with a psychotherapist subsequent to a severe mental/emotional reaction. It means they were checked in to a hospital for emotional trauma, visited with the hospital clinician and were assigned a permanent counselor outside of the hospital. Once the clinician at the hospital clears them, they're released back to their normal lives. Most of them never even show up for the follow-up appointments. Legally, we can't make them. If the clinician deems there's no immediate threat to the patient or others by releasing them, then we have no right to hold them. They have to come back on their own. Sure, we tell them they have to come back for the appointment, but there are no consequences if they don't.
Do no harm. I repeat the oath over to myself as I open the red colored file folder on top of the stack on my desk. Robyn Summers. I only have a little over ten minutes before she's due to arrive. After skimming the file for less than two of those minutes, I can't help but beg any unseen forces out there that she'll be one of the few who do come back. It's clear to me that this girl is hurting, she needs someone to listen, to be there for her. If she doesn't show up to seek that help, then there's a very good chance she could end up back in the hospital or worse. This girl should never have been released by a simple clinician, without some way of enforcing that she follows up for treatment and any consultations that she's assigned. I look to the clock by the door and frown to myself in thought, wondering not for the first time if our system of mental health care in the US is really the best one or just the cheapest one. Do no harm. That's an easy thing to say, but if Robyn Summers doesn't show up in three minutes, then I'd say we've done quite a bit of harm and not an ounce of good.