Once while I was in Milwaukee, lecturing, William asked me, “My mother’s sister lives in Milwaukee.
She is independently wealthy, very religious, she doesn’t like my mother and my mother doesn’t like her. She has a housekeeper come in, a maid come in every day to do the housework, the cooking, and she stays alone in that big house, goes to church, has no friends there. She just attends church and silently slips away. And she’s been horribly depressed for nine months. I’m worried about her and I’d like you to stop in and do something for her. I’m the only relative she has that she likes and she can’t stand me. So call on her and see what you can do.”
So, a depressed woman … I introduced myself and identified myself thoroughly . . . asked to be taken on a tour of that house. In looking around I saw she was a very wealthy woman living alone, idle, attending church but keeping to herself, and I went through the house room after room . . .
…and I saw three African violets and a potting pot with a leaf in it being sprouted as a new plant. So I knew what to do for her in the way of therapy.
I told her, “I want you to buy every African violet plant in view for yourself . . . those are yours. I want you to buy a couple hundred potting pots for you to sprout new African violets, and you buy a couple hundred gift pots.
As soon as the sprouts are well rooted, for every birth announcement you send an African violet; for every Christening; for every engagement; for every wedding; for every sickness; for every death; every Church bazaar.”
And one time she had two hundred African violets . . . and if you take care of two hundred African violets you’ve got a day’s work cut out. And she became the African Violet Queen of Milwaukee with endless numbers of friends.
Just that one little interview. I just pointed her nose in the right direction and said “Giddyup”. And she did all the rest of the therapy.
And that’s the important thing about therapy . . . you find out the potentials that are possible for your patients and then you encourage your patient to undertake them and sooner or later he’ll get all wrapped up in it.