What is Individual Therapy Really Like?!

This is a question I’m guessing a lot of people have asked themselves at some point along the way, especially in times of major life change. I think many therapists are up against major cultural stigmas that resist-at various levels-the work we hope to do. Sadly, this may keep a good amount of people from getting the help they need in individual therapy and otherwise.

In this spirit, today’s blog entry is dedicated to anyone who has ever held themselves back from experimenting with individual therapy-or from anything big in their lives, for that matter-against their true nature. I hope to give you a brief and revealing insight into what the therapeutic experience has been like for me. For 15 years as a client, I have worked on myself through Individual, Couples, and Group Therapy, I have seen a Chiropractor at times (not a huge fan), tried Craniosacral Therapy, Guided Imagery & Music Therapy, Holotropic Breathwork, Yoga, Structural Integration (Rolfing), Reiki, Kinesthetic Muscle-Testing, Spiritual Readings, and Vision Quest. In 5 years as a practitioner, I have worked with individuals, couples, groups, practiced Guided Imagery & Music, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and am being trained as a Reiki practitioner. I think my own personal quest for wellness and health through all the above means has greatly enhanced my abilities as a practitioner, and I will continue to explore personal growth throughout my life.

I tell you all this because more than the theoretical orientations used, the most important healing aspect has been the relationships I have had with clients and practitioners. Since I have spent significant time in both seats, I see more and more where the boundaries dissolve, and the growth happens. Within these relationships I have experienced the broadest range of emotion. I’ve been reduced to a sobbing mess of sadness and relief, I’ve channeled unfiltered rage, I’ve been inspired to the clouds, dejected under the earth, and just plain anxious and annoyed. I’ve taken risks, I’ve shared shameful memories, and I’ve found myself and my heart in a truthful moment. My quest for truth and love in my life has clarified that I want to help as many people live better and live to create healthier relationships. As a client I haven’t had anyone try to “figure me out,” judge me, tell me how to live my life, or give unsolicited advice. I have had to hear and say difficult yet truthful things, step into discomfort, and face myself in a new way. As a therapist, I remember what I have appreciated from my experiences as a client and bring the perspective that, no matter which seat I’m in, I can have a positive impact on the other, as can you. I continue to learn so much from my clients, as I hold intention for them to find their own higher selves. Above all, I have experienced the most growth from the co-creation of an honest and compassionate space. The best therapy to me is not fluff, it’s raw authenticity within and between all parties. Bring this to others and strong transformation will happen. If you are not ready to go to that place in yourself, than, yeah, your time and money will probably be better spent in other ways.

If  you are someone who is curious about discovering yourself through some sort of professional or clinical relationship, I hope you will be open to the creative magic and spontaneous spirit that the therapeutic process can provide. Therapy-and healing practices in general-have been portrayed in so many ways, and the truth that I’ve found is that it is really what you and your therapist make it.