Whether you’ve been in therapy before, or starting it for the first time, entering into a new therapy relationship is a courageous act. I appreciate your step towards growth and healing and welcome your choice to make real changes in your life. The beginning process is about us getting to know each other, and learning about what is that causing your concerns and suffering, and what makes up your hopes and dreams. I do my best to learn about your rhythms, to listen empathetically while also asking questions, inviting clarification, and gently, with your assistance, challenging you to look at some of your stuck places and to begin the process of working on and through defenses and emotional blockages.
Sometimes what starts to happen is that we both realize that a lot of what might be bothering you are ideas and assumptions that come from having grown up in a world that is not very accepting to human diversity and freedom, and that inside of our minds can exist a fierce “inner critic” that can be our own worst enemy, contributing to negative messages, self-sabotaging patterns, unfulfilling relationships, and “toxic shame,” all of which can contribute to outbursts and work and in relationships or an ongoing “moodiness” or sadness. It can be really freeing to identify that harsh inner parent in one’s own psyche and find the wherewithal to separate that oppressive, hidden voice from our true selves and even stand up to its moralism and judgmentalism to release untapped energy arising from the inner soul and “true self.”
As we work collaboratively and as a team, it’s important to establish working goals for the therapy, and that you feel free to give me feedback and let me know what is working for you in our alliance and what is not. Some of the goals could include improved communication with co-workers, friends, lovers, and partners, or intervening on depression and anxiety—or helping you come out as an LGBT person. It might be time to cultivate more creative interests and pursuits. We can talk about cognitive behavioral approaches to changing automatic thought patterns or introducing new behaviors. While doing so, it can be important to identify underlying childhood trauma that hasn’t been fully worked-through, to listen to memories from the unfinished past that may arise in the session or in a dream, so as to develop new emotional responses to scary feelings or disturbing anxiety, and increase resiliency and develop new strengths in the broken places and “re-write” old neural pathways.
It’s important to me that we both know what the focus of therapy is and that we allow ourselves to reassess and clarify what is working and what is not working and stay on track to improve your life situation.
I have personally found that C.G. Jung’s notion of “individuation” can benefit clients looking for a greater meaning and purpose in their approach to life, and Jung’s idea that our “personal shadow” can be the doorway into the soul and the undiscovered self. Jung also has the idea that our romantic feelings are central to discover an experience of soul. I might find it helpful as well to share readings from the different schools of therapy, the work of Alice Miller on child neglect and abuse, for example, and work on an archetypal gay-centered perspective to individuation, feminist analyses, or even Ted Talks that feel relevant and pertinent to our work.
I like to think of therapy with me as a way to address your problems, deepen your relationships, and bring in new creative approaches to becoming psychological and deepening your relationship to creativity and soul-making.