On my website, I have shared with you aspects of my own journey on becoming a psychotherapist. In this blog, I would like to share with you a little about my own personal journey in my analytic based psychotherapy.
In that book, I write about how a crucial part, in the process of training to be a psychotherapist, and in the development of a psychotherapist, is in doing one’s own psychotherapy. There is an important rationale behind this self-imposed requirement in the training process.
One of many reasons is that we can only work as deeply with our clients as we have been ourselves. Not having done our own work will restrict what we are able to offer our clients in terms of recovery.
Another reason is that if the psychotherapist is triggered by the clients; words, issues, experiences, thoughts, feelings, behaviours … in fact anything … and he/she has not done their own work they will, in fact, be consciously and unconsciously processing their own deep-seated fears and concerns, and not fully available for their clients.
So, when I made that cataclysmic decision to take a 180-degree turn from all I had known in my work-life and career I came to learn that I also needed to do my own work prior to having the privilege of working with other people.
Upfront I will declare I did not take to this journey with the same zeal as some of my clients. And there were points in my own journey where I wished I had never known the underbelly of true, real, psychotherapy. However, this journey gave me the opportunity to regain parts of myself I did not know were missing or could never have known existed. Parts of me long buried in my unconscious mire, so deeply, as to never be located, save for how they played out in my life behaviourally.
I recall having coffee with colleague one day. Someone who was training in the same group as I was and in the same process. Tired, or exhausted, from years of intense training, learning, development and our own psychotherapy she looked at me and said, ‘we can’t go back can we’. It was a milestone … our lives no longer resembled anything we knew.
At many junctures, I did want out. At many junctures, most clients want out. As I mention in my book (Chapter 27 The Screen) a line from the 1972 song by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose kept going over and over in my head, ‘it’s too late to turn back now …’ though I was not falling in love.
Would I do this journey again? While I was traversing this journey, I would have said an uncategorical no! Knowing what I know now, it would be an absolute yes.
Over two decades later there has been a multitude of learning and even more integration into a fully developed self. My fear now centres more around what my life might have been had I not taken this journey.
What did I learn on that journey? It was confronting to see my own lack in important basic life skills such as deeper communication, meaningful relationship, healthy attachment and improved bonding. Not to mention how much calmer my internal process was, with more confidence, a loss of useless scripts behaviour and better ways of attaching. The benefits have been endless … but that is like telling someone wanting to buy your car that it’s fabulous … take my word for it’. This knowing is only a knowing from the doing.
It is somewhat difficult to find actual words that might describe this inner development, this sort of finding one’s self. I want to say to find a ‘higher’ self, but that might likely evoke a spiritual image. Psychotherapy is not a spiritual journey. Though I have often thought of it as a sort of ‘finding my way home’, back to the person I might have been had life and my archaic early interpretive lens not be strewn with the challenges occurring in most childhood lives … and onward.
Understanding where thoughts, feelings, behaviours, biases, criticism … in fact our entire modus operandi originates, is a long journey. For a psychotherapist that journey often continues as long as we work in the field.
One of the things that attaches me to my work as a psychotherapist is working with people who want that same journey… though not everyone feels that way in the beginning.
To have the privilege of working with people who want to empower themselves and to be able to speak of their deepest fears, vulnerabilities and traumas. This is a rewarding experience for any psychotherapist.
Having said that, it is a very difficult thing to describe to any person the outcome they might expect when embarking on such an intrapsychic journey.
Over the years, and on many occasions, I have sat with clients and asked the question, ‘if we were to go back to the beginning of this journey, knowing what you know now about your time in psychotherapy, how could I have better described to your then self, what might happen … what outcome you might have expected to have?’ To date almost every person has said something to the effect … ‘there are no words’.
I invite you to consider such a journey so that you might become all you can. My hope is that if you do decide to take this journey, what I have presented here in my blogs and on my website generally you might feel inspired to do so. If you are still unconvinced perhaps reading my book you might get a more thorough understanding of the work of psychotherapy