Canoeing and Connection

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I went canoeing in the Pine Barrens. Keeping the boat moving straight ahead was no easy task.


We needed to work together to keep the boat moving. My daughter was in the stern, thus directing the boat, and I was in the bow, seeing the way ahead. We had to talk to each other to achieve our goal.

This experience was similar to my experience of talking with her. One evening we walked together, under the pink clouds of the setting sun. Walking together was heart-felt beautiful. Our arms were linked and we felt warmly connected to one another. But every few minutes she corrected me. It was like the paddling. I had to listen to her so that things stayed on course.

She told me how to respond to her. It was not easy to do this but I decided to give it my best effort and it was worth it, in the end.  I was able to hear her for her (and not interrupt her with my thoughts), which was what she wanted.

It may sound strange, but this experience enhanced our closeness.

It is this kind of uninterrupted listening that so many of us want. We want it from our partners and we wanted it from our parents.

When we don’t get it, our psyches are a little bit flattened. There is a little less of us in the world.

One of the great benefits of seeing me as a therapist is my ability to really listen and support the re-emerging you!

Claudia Apfelbaum, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in NW Philadelphia, where she sees individuals and couples and runs groups on overcoming isolation. For further information, see her website at