GOOD ENOUGH THERAPY
EVERYONE COULD USE THERAPY that's good ENOUGH
EVERYONE COULD USE THERAPY that's good ENOUGH
EVERYONE could use some good therapy. When we are born into limited care taking, (we are all raised by human beings, so there’s always a limitation, always something to look at, always a need that didn’t get met ENOUGH), when limited parenting happens because THEIR care takers were limited, we experienced loss so viscerally profound (loss of Self) that we spend the rest of our lives searching for that lost Self.
To fill that void of a lost Self, we may abuse drugs and alcohol or have an affair, or find others ways to cope with that loss, like shopping, gambling, sex, or work. We find these ways of coping satisfying in the immediate need to feel comforted or to avoid how painful that loss feels
Those effective ways of coping may become so pronounced that they become the focus of “what’s wrong” with us. “He’s an alcoholic.” She’s a hoarder”, “Those kids just want attention.”
If we’re lucky, and are exposed to the idea of participating in therapy, we are able to go in and look at “the problem with us.” To examine our substance abuse, or infidelity, or overeating. A lot of people get there through a set of circumstances seemingly out of their control, or a partner’s ultimatum, or that feeling of emptiness they can’t quite put their finger on (original loss of Self).
However, most people don’t get to therapy at all, so they learn life’s lessons through crisis or they do get to therapy but it “doesn’t help.”
In whatever way it happens, taking the time, effort, energy, and of course financial commitment to look at one’s Self, to put into practice what Socrates believed (and I certainly subscribe to) that “an unexamined life is not worth living,” is nothing less than courageous.
Courageous because while the ways people cope may get them to contact me, schedule an initial appointment and even show up, the majority of people don’t consciously realize the depth of the journey they are about to take.
Once sitting across from me on the proverbial couch, they recognize that the “problem” they have with drinking isn’t the actual problem. It’s an indication that there is problem, and in that recognition they begin to understand that the drinking or shopping or working or thinking negatively about one’s SELF (yes, this is a way to cope also!), has actually been an effective “solution” to the actual (yet really still unknown problem).
My clients are courageous because if the ways in which to cope with the problem is not actually THE problem, then what is? For the people who come see me, it’s a journey of Self discovery that will answer that question.
For a lot of people who go to therapy, the answer becomes a diagnosis. I must admit to initially believing, as many of my colleagues and the field of psychotherapy itself believe and accept that a diagnosis or label or “disorder” is the answer to the question of what has so many of us behaving, thinking and feeling like something isn’t right with us.
However, this is what I (and many many others before and with me) now understand to be most true: A diagnosis is another way to cope. Naming the reason someone abuses alcohol as alcoholic or someone who has extreme difficulty managing their emotional reactions to a life of severe identity trauma “Borderline,” or labeling someone a “Narcissist” because of an affair, may help give an understanding as to why we behave in certain ways. It may provide relief (and continues to for many) to hear from a mental health professional that what you’ve been doing is no arbitrary, purely self-destructive problem “you’d stop doing if you were serious about it.”
It may also even allow for a new life that you’ve always hoped you’d have. But what if that’s still not the answer? What if finding relief from a lifetime of overeating because of a trauma in childhood that can ultimately be labeled as Depression or Anxiety wasn’t enough of that answer or the filling in of that void, that emptiness we still feel after we’ve been diagnosed, or prescribed medication, or even having been to therapy for years?! (Therapy for years that isn’t showing results as some kind of shift and change may actually not be GOOD ENOUGH therapy).
What if the diagnoses was also a way to cope with that original loss of Self?
This is why I say that my clients are courageous. Because it takes real courage to consider and follow through with the kind of inner work it takes to go deeper than a diagnosis. Using a diagnosis (which, by the way is utilized primarily for insurance and psychiatric purposes), as guidance to go further in treatment is how I conceptualize, organize and assess with a client, what may - more definitive than not- is REALLY going on.
Bipolar II disorder (BP-II; pronounced "type two bipolar" or "bipolar type two" disorder) is a bipolar spectrum disorder characterized by at least one episode of hypomania and at least one episode of major depression.
A Lot of people diagnosed with this disorder cope by using drugs and alcohol excessively to manage or cope with the effects of how it feels to be at mercy of their extreme emotions of “Everything is Fantastic” or when waking up every single day is a disappointment… you.”
So in this example of a pretty typical and often overly diagnosed disorder, using drugs works because YOU control how high or low you WANT to feel. Of course this works for only so long. One because you can only get so high before you have to try all over again and again. Two because depending on the drug of “choice,” if you don’t find another way to cope sooner than later, your elastic brain will form to that pathWay of coping and even if you want to stop, your body begs to differ.
Finally, this method of coping is limited because eventually you will cease to know what it’s like to be alive. Yes, you will die.
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder (one or two), can allow for the clinician and patient to better understand how to intervene with those rapid cycles of mood and help the patient manage.
The thing is, if we stop there (as most do), it may still be the proverbial bandaid on a bullet wound. This is because the deeper, more meaningful, and consistently long term relieving intervention has to do with an overhaul of personality. Yes, courage.
One of my tag lines to my practice (and if you follow me on social media or are a client of mine, you know there are lots!), is “It’s time to learn how to be attracted to what’s healthy.”
Well, I can’t very well “promise” something like that without breaking down at least the first step. There is one requirement I have in the work with those who will have me help them have them. It’s Willingness.
If you are at least willing to look at the dark corners of you, if you are willing to consider that there are alternative ways for why you reacted or why you didn’t to anything in your life. you will see progress, you will change.
That willingness can truly be tested when it comes to the the next step in learning how to be attracted to what’s healthy:
You must be willing to rethink some of the major assumptions that have governed your life. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology.
He believed (and I certainly subscribe) to the idea that psychological distress is a result of an imbalance within the individual that is often experienced as an alienation from the deeper personality, or what he calls The Self.
Private self-awareness is defined as the self looking inward at oneself, including emotions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings. All of these cannot be discovered by anyone else. Public self-awareness is defined by gathering information about your self through the perceptions of others.
When utilizing the elements of a deeper kind of treatment (Depth Psychology) the approach is to be open (willing) to the exploration of the subtle, unconscious, and transpersonal aspects of human experience.
Basically, Who are you REALLY? And What do you REALLY want out of your life?
When those of us in the mental health profession can embark on a less self righteous journey toward an often times highly biased diagnostic reasoning, and when we are better able to approach a person’s pain from a more strength-based exploration of what THEY consider to be who they are, then we can put the manual or rubric down and honor it Selves, the profession we participate in and by listening , truly listening to and from the person sitting on the couch in front of us, and then guiding them to their hidden, lost or forgotten selves and helping them FEEL their way while accepting that those feelings are not facts and toward the answer(s) they’ve been looking for: THEIR answers.
So, WHY could everyone use therapy? Ask your Self: If you could strive to come to know your Self so well that whatever life throws at you, you are able to manage with a balance of self-appreciation and self-discipline so much so that achieving and maintaining your own self-actualization; and in doing so significantly contribute in guiding others toward their understanding of themselves and THEIR actualized Selves, Would you?
Would you like to organically feel, and therefore know which behaviors are the ones most illustrative of who you’ve hoped you could be, who you wanted to be, and who you actually already are. However due to being raised by humans you haven’t been in touch with that part of you. If that resonates with you as something of authentic interest, then you could use some good therapy and good therapy could use some of you. Good enough in emoting, a badass in doing, and integrated in being all while catching back up to your Real Self.
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