One day, when I was working as a psychologist in England，an adolescent boy showed up in my office. It was David. He kept walking up and down restlessly, his face pale, and his hands shaking slightly. His head teacher had referred him to me. "This boy has lost his family," he wrote. "He is understandably very sad and refuses to talk to others, and I'm very worried about him. Can you help?”
I looked at David and showed him to a chair. How could I help him? There are problems psychology doesn’t have the answer to, and which no words can describe. Sometimes the best thing one can do is to listen openly and sympathetically
The first two times we met, David didn't say a word. He sat there, only looking up to look at the children's drawings on the wall behind me. I suggested we play a game of chess. He nodded. After that he played chess with me every Wednesday afternoon一in complete silence and without looking at me. It's not easy to cheat in chess, but I admit I made sure David won once or twice.
Usually, he arrived earlier than agreed. took the chess board and pieces from the shelf and began setting them up before I even got a chance to sit down. It seemed as if he enjoyed my company. But why did he never look at me?
"Perhaps he simply needs someone to share his pain with," I thought. "Perhaps he senses that I respect his suffering.”Some months later, when we were playing chess, he looked up at me suddenly.
"Ifs your turn," he said.
After that day, David started talking. He got friends in school and joined a bicycle club. He wrote to me a few times. about his biking with some friends, and about his plan to get into university. Now he had really started to live his own life.
Maybe I gave David something. But I also learned that one一without any words一can reach out to another person. All it takes is a hug, a shoulder to cry on, a friendly touch, and an ear that listens.