RECEIVING THE GIFT OF THERAPY
"Every time we experience real goodness and gentleness, we know it is a gift" - Henri Nouwen
I like to think of the therapy hour as a gift to oneself, a time to slow down and create space for self-reflection, for receiving grace, truth and care, for learning how to correct errors and make changes that lead to healing and growth. In his book, Reaching Out, Henri Nouwen, a priest and writer on spirituality, speaks of our need for an open, receptive place where something can happen to us. He writes that we need to create space for God to work by slowing down long enough to reflect upon the meaning of our lives. Sometimes change just happens, but more often it occurs when we actively pursue it.
Often our lives are so busy that we forget to take time to nourish ourselves, to listen, to recognize another's love, presence and care. As a therapist, I seek to provide such a place where reality can be faced, anxieties contained and unreasonable reactions dealt with. I seek to understand each individual and help him or her find personal meaning in life.
Therapy is not just about symptom relief. People often come in crisis or pain simply wanting the problem to go away. They neglect to see that suffering may actually be a gift leading to healing, wholeness and growth. If we have a splinter in our finger and treat it with a band-aid, it soon festers and infects. The longer we neglect it, the deeper the wound. It is not until we take time to dig it out and apply healing balm that the finger is once again whole and useful.
Some wounds leave scars, but all can be transformed into something new and meaningful. Those who are willing to journey through the pain they suffer may actually find new life waiting at the end of their journey.
For me the gift of therapy is the privilege I have of walking alongside another person for a moment in time. I am amazed by the openness and vulnerability of my clients. I am amazed by the range of emotion I experience. At times I feel deep sadness and compassion. At other times I feel frustration, anger or a sense of injustice. The gift for me is recognizing my own feeling and using this emotion to connect with the other person. The therapy process works when connection takes place and the client feels understood, acknowledged and safe enough to let go of defenses, receive feedback and finally learn to monitor emotions outside of the therapy session.
The therapy hour helps me understand our need for relationship, community, discipline and encouragement. When we meet together in truth and share in each others' lives, we live out this important aspect of our existence. Healing comes as we tell our stories, grieve our losses and receive the new that awaits us.