Sunday, March 13, 2011

I hate the word therapy. I was trained as a 'spiritual psychotherapist' and the terms is more accurate than other terms to convey what I do in the literal, mundane sense. But I don't feel mundane or literal when I'm actually doing it and I don't for a moment feel it captures the spirit of what I love to do.

But I don't know a word that will do it better. I know a thousand words I like better and any one will be the right one today, for you. tomorrow, for me. But I've never been able to choose one without feeling like it, eventually, turns me and the work into a caricature.

The word therapy is both meaningless and loaded. It means so many different things that using it means I still have to qualify what I do anyway. And to some people it has pleasant associations. But despite fiercely loving every aspect of my work on behalf of others and being profoundly devoted to my own inner work - I have definitely struggled with some of it's unpleasant connotations all the while I worked to earn the label.

I'm uncomfortable with the way it has come to mean you're broken and I know how to fix it. Or that you can't handle your own life and without my help (or someone's help) you wont be able to pick up your pieces. Or that I know secret methods of psychological re training that will unlock things that are only mysterious to you because you're weak and probably stupid and definitely broken.

And when I'm not feeling turned -off by the word, I'm feeling disappointed in it's failure to put it's finger on the pulse of what I do.

It doesn't tell you there is a great mystery involved to be in awe of and reverential toward that welcomes you into it and teaches you everything you need to know to be who you are in wise-time and in wise-ways.

It doesn't tell you about the profound intimacy involved between you and me. How exploring your inner realms is not about static insights that you bounce off of me as a clean and unresponding slate - because who's life actually works like that? sure the insights will come - but what will you *do* with them? Learning to use them means needing someone to use them on and someone to use them with. It takes a stunning kind of openness - brazenly willing to be human and to be affected.

It doesn't tell you what it will feel like to have me invite you to connect that deeply with yourself and then to me to feel your way into understanding the complex dynamics of relationship and decision making.

It doesn't tell you that you will find in yourself a ravenous hunger to take that invitation on.

It doesn't tell you that you bring with you the courage, strength and clarity that eventually turns into stamina, wisdom and power that makes you *feel* like a different person in a different life - even though there is surprisingly little distance between them when you start out.

It doesn't tell you that sometimes you stumble into your revelations in a sudden flash that also continues to permeate your entire being over the rest of your life, surprising, delighting and confusing you.

It doesn't tell you that being confused is actually a profound accomplishment- because it means you've somehow come to the edge of all that you are sure that you know (we all know what it looks like when someone avoids the idea that they might not know or be sure or have the answer to something - they don't strike us as particularly strong) and had the wherewithal to wonder what else might be true and useful about you.

It doesn't capture the quirky and ridiculous parts of delving into your writhing and gorgeous mess.

It doesn't tell you that there is something mythical and magical about the way the process changes when you are joined by someone who can see the undercurrents of where you are and who has your back as you wander around in new places and brings a light and a humour to your unthinkable.

But what do you call them? They're not always professionals - they're not always human. But we know it when they are with us. we can feel the way they infuse what is happening, what we are noticing and wondering with an ineffable quality - meaning? tolerability? a way of drawing our attention back from the nonsensical fragments to the pattern each one makes as a whole? Or just the feeling of company while we do it ourselves - that the sense of a strong presence somehow makes the space feel bigger, time feel like less of a persecution and the nitty gritty take on new shades and nuances that almost remind you of fun?

What word would you use to describe all that?


Bizz Varty said...

honey, i know how you feel! 'certified pilates teacher' just doesn't describe what i do, which is more like mind-body-spirit re-education, or something. i have always said that the bet teachers are guides and examples (and entertainers) so perhaps that is what you do - guide and demonstrate that a conscious, joyful life is possible not despite, but because of the challenges we face. you celebrate the sticky parts of life that lead to the shining, brilliant moments. you are more like a therapeutic facilitator and emotional masseuse. or something.... discuss.

Unleashed said...

I know! Trying to describe what you do to people makes me all sputtery my little fists clenching "'s like magic, but real - she *knows* your body but it's not like seeing a doctor, it's like art. It's exercising, yeah - like you're stretching and strengthening but it's more like falling in love with your body and how it works and getting excited about inhabiting it consciously and well...." I think, eventually, it was my enthusiasm that made the most sense - what I was *saying* probably made me sound nuts. Nuts for you. :)

I agree that the best teachers are examples - I learn best by watching people do something well like a hawk - my senses digging around under their skin for how they're doing it. and it's clear when a good teacher knows you're doing it and makes it ok for you to dig like that - be that invasive - and then willing to answer whatever questions come up out of it. The insight, the knowledge I get is living - it has a pulse.

Part of how I get clarity for who I am often starts with feeling uncomfortable with and sensitive to a representation that doesn't feel that it applies to me (eg. some connotations of therapy as well as some connotations of being disabled), or a feeling of incompleteness with a label. Investigating the discomfort and what I can learn about what I do is more important than not using the word. It seems you can't capture the precise essence of the living part of what you do with a title - only with the experience - but ideally the word would capture the attention of the people who would most enjoy and benefit from the experience..

Post a Comment


Copyright 2010 Unleash.

Theme by
Blogger Template by Beta Templates.