Therapy, at first glance, appears to be like going to the doctor: I have pain in my elbow (or emotions) and I don’t want to cope with it on my own, so I head to a specialist in such things who can give me a remedy. But emotions aren’t like elbows — they don’t get broken and thus they can’t be fixed. Emotions and thoughts and physical sensations that connect to something ephemeral we can’t quite identify are malleable, constantly changing, and as ever-present as the air we breathe. The therapist doesn’t just trot out a well-defined remedy, slap a bandage on the wound, and send you on your way.
Therapy is filling a void in society that was created by the materialist march towards individualism. In the cultural shift implying that every man is an island and your success is based on your character, we collectively took our eye off the prize: that connection, relationship, and depending on others when we’re struggling is at the heart of what makes life meaningful and fulfilling. I don’t suggest that collectivist cultures with an emphasis on interdependence are without problems; but I do suggest that what makes life worth living is in the connection with others.
Family, friends, community are all spheres within which we can experience connection. But there’s another role that’s well known in traditional cultures: that of the trusted mentor and guide. Sometimes this is a spiritual leader, and often it’s a wise elder. Someone who takes time to get to know you, holds your insecurities and fears with tenderness, champions your successes without self interest, and keeps your words in strict confidence. Someone with a deep understanding and interest in human nature, and can hold both the ever-present suffering and the optimistic hope for growth and maturation.
This is the role filled by the therapist today. Yes, in a world of professional specialization and cash-in-trade for services, relationship with the therapist has a transactional component. But this is a person who devotes their life to the wellbeing of others, who has as their vocation to care and honor, who is trained in emotional intelligence and psychological wisdom.
So consider your therapist or counselor as a trusted guide. Choose them with care and invest in the relationship. It’s reigniting the crucial connection with a guide who helps lead you to discover your deepest self. And if you’re curious about working with me, schedule a free meet & greet!