Therapy: Hindrance or Healing?
by Margie Thomas 2005
You may have been abused early in life, shut down, extinguished, shocked, so your true self is always outside your body dangling somewhere close or far. You’ve developed this robot-type persona that moves your body place to place but you never feel whole, healthy, authentic, or acceptable. You go from healer to healer with their pre-set agendas, trying to fit in, squelching your wildness. At the same time, you desire more than anything to unleash your creative self. You keep reigning yourself in until you feel invisible, utterly alone. You try conforming, taking the wisdom from one “expert” to a session with the next therapist, but are met with shrugs, put-downs because their way is the only way.
Wouldn’t it be great if the healer could let go of preconceived notions, experiences with other clients and just meet you where you are, with no judgments, contempt, shame or leading? What if they wiped their own slate clean and set aside their agendas or assumptions of normalcy, quit trying to be in charge of or take credit for changing you. They are really not in control of your healing. You have an intuitive knowing and need a huge space for experimentation. So what if you want to play cards so you might feel safe enough to cry with a kindred spirit, instead of the therapist trying to get you to hit the pillows in their determination to provoke your anger?
So what if you said that walking a labyrinth would help you to stay alive. Is it the end of the world to want relief, an occasional cigarette or adequate medication for unrelenting back pain? Instead of labeling you borderline or resistant, what if they honored that digging in your heels is stubbornness to hold onto your Self, what little of it you actually have? What if they celebrated your crazy coping mechanisms instead of judging? What if they were authentic quiet witnesses, offering just the right amount of “ohs” and “ahhhs” instead of being offended or defensive. Maybe they have become so robot-like themselves that no space is allowed for the messiness of finding oneself, floundering around one minute, being angry the next, then maybe sad for hours. What is IS! They could stop trying to move someone along in a hurry and they could stop being cold and detached.
Compassion and curiosity are essential. Everything else is a cog in the wheel. How does one learn to be compassionate and take care of oneself without the experience of those things? Words don’t help, but actions, energy, intent, tone of voice, gestures, nuances are telltale signs of contempt versus care. Outside of murder or suicide or violence or addiction, pretty much anything goes. So what if the therapist was trained in bioenergetics and that worked for her. You might want to be more gentle, and do a somatic experiencing exercise instead. This is not manipulation but experimentation with the experience of finding oneself. With someone who has many ego splits the specifics might change from moment to moment, session to session. No one wants to eat the same thing every night, so who would want to do a kicking exercise every session. I want the right to negotiate, to be seen and heard and through that safety of wishy-washy change-my-mind actions, my true self might finally emerge.
Please if you are a therapist don’t let the client believe there is a right way or wrong way. Instead just follow them as best you can. Ask questions out of curiosity instead of jumping to conclusions. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t attitudes do not move someone to healing or empowerment or a shameless sense of self. It’s like a dance, no stepping on toes or keeping too distant. There are nuances and constant corrections in order to flow, but the corrections shouldn’t be forced on the client. They are learning it is about them and once they feel a sense of safety, then you might be able to convey your own expertise by example in actions, not forced agendas. God or spirit or intuition is the healer, not the therapists’ contrived protocol. Take the shoulds out of the equation and make room for: Oh, what is it you mean? Help me to understand. I want to help, to be present, to follow your own healing metaphors, to be open to the truths of your stilted small voices.