“Therapy is very much like climbing a mountain. It’s an act of courage.”
What is Psychotherapy?
Therapy can be an emotional intimidating, intellectual challenging and physically demanding experience. Fear of the unknown is often a prominent variable. Neuroscience tells us that you cannot successfully summit this mountain alone or with a self-help book. Conquering this mountain, climbing into the unknown, requires a relationship based in affection and respect.
During the experience of building this relationship it is likely that we will develop symbols, shorthand phrases, even a language conceived to express your innermost feelings. I will learn your language, and when I hear it and speak it you will know how much I appreciate all of the subtleties of your personality, current situation and singular history.
Since your language derives from the experience of your climb, no one but us will speak your language fluently. Initially, you will likely find comfort feeling heard and understood as you talk to me in session about the emotional, intellectual and physical challenges of your climb. Eventually, as in all nurturing relationships, you will feel relief from loneliness and isolation as you take me with you and talk to me when I’m not present.
As you climb higher you will use this language you invented to talk to yourself, you will learn how to listen to yourself; you will nurture your ability to think and feel about this most personal conversation; finally and most importantly, you will begin to use what you think and feel to set a course for your life in your world.
“As you climb higher you will learn to talk to yourself, how to listen to yourself and how you feel about this most personal conversation.”
While no one climbs this mountain alone, independence and confidence and a desire for intimacy with another is usually our shared goal. Once you are comfortable speaking and listening to yourself, I will become redundant and you will try to convince me, rightly, that you can climb the last bit of mountain without my help, you may even tell me that I’m slowing you down, or that I’m not as smart or perceptive or quick as used to be or perhaps it would be better if I could just be quiet because you no longer need my help.
Therapy is not a linear process, it’s not an efficient process, sometimes therapy is three steps forward and one step back. Other times we will hike what seem like unending plateaus only to make an unforeseen quantum leap up the mountain. Many people climbing consistently for a period of time attain the mountaintop successfully on their first try. Other patients make significant progress, take a break, return to therapy months or years later; get back in shape and continue climbing. There is no one right way, no right speed up the mountain. No one’s path up the mountain is the same.
Therapy is a relationship and most relationships endure so long as they promote the growth of the people committed to them. Successful therapy is usually a rewarding act of discovering, growth, revelation and achievement for you and a nurturing, emotionally, intellectually challenging and, as a result, rewarding, personally and professionally validating experience for me.