I'm Not Sure What Therapy Is, but I Think I Know What It Isn't
Updated: Aug 18, 2020
I hear all kinds of perceptions about therapy from friends, family, colleagues and clients. The word is so individual, it seems to barely mean the same thing to anyone.
The truth is, I have all kinds of perceptions about therapy myself. I have been attempting to make a video about who I am and how I perceive therapy for a few months now and have been surprised at how difficult it has been to generally describe therapy.
The picture above is the clearest image of therapy I have found yet: a relationship in which two people work to share vision while the therapist does their best to hold a mirror so the client may wake up to their own beauty.
As real and physical as therapy is, it is also abstract. We are using the memory and imagination of the mind, the emotions, and the cues of physical body to inform the process, most of which feel intangible. So, as I continue to work with this abstract image of the mirror holder and the truth seeker, it feels easier to share my experience of what therapy is not rather than what it is.
Here are three common misconceptions I hear about therapy:
Therapy is for the sick.
We are trying to go somewhere in therapy. In the beginning, we don’t always know exactly what the terrain will look like at the end of the trip, or even down the road, but regardless, the vision to change scenery is set.
To take the journey, we must believe in a sliver of hope that the trip is worth taking. That thread of hope for change is our muse and inspiration for the trip. While we have parts of ourselves that are sick, therapy asks us to believe in the part of us that is well, the one who can hold the vision.
Therapy is for the ones who are courageous enough to be led by the sight of their wellness through the unknown territory of the world. Certainly, the therapist joins the client in holding the vision, sometimes holding up their arms when they are too tired to hold themselves. Yet, the fuel for the journey is still inspired by the well desire of the client.
Therapy is for the weak.
Orienting to therapy with the vision for wellness as the guide takes the well part of the client to the gym. Sometimes we are aware of our strengths, and many times we discover brand new strengths in the process of therapy, meaning we are using mental, emotional and spiritual muscles that have never before been used in this context.
To commit to building hope, to be with the uncomfortable aspects of ourselves and allow for the unseen to be illuminated may be the biggest challenge of life. It is much easier (more like familiar) to stay in a small paradigm than to venture into the uncertain. Expanding paradigms requires strength and will.
Therapy is for the rich.
Money represents a lot for us. Our survival, felt sense of freedom, personal power, relationships, voice and vision can feel dependent upon the number on our bank accounts. Money is the modality through which we often expect to have our wishes fulfilled. Our experience of money can easily become the gatekeeper through which our desires are realized or blocked.
Just like the therapeutic process itself, the possibilities for accumulating the money to invest in therapy are beyond what our current vision can hold. Deciding that experiencing therapy is a desire worth pursuing is the first step. We often limit ourselves by the idea that we don’t have enough money before money itself truly limits us.
To be clear, there are political and social structures in place that make therapy less accessible for large groups of people; and there are many low-income organizations and programs that support vulnerable populations. Many therapy practices accept insurance which in some cases entirely cover the cost. Other practices, like Houston Therapy work on a sliding scale which can meet a client where they are in their financial situation.
Money is essential to the therapeutic process because of what it represents. It is an investment in the self and requires a physical action associated with that investment. Making the decision to invest in therapy is choosing that our transformation is of highest importance and we deserve to be cared-for, heard and seen as we navigate our lives.
If you are interested in therapy with Veronica, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to set an appointment over video or phone and chat about what you are experiencing. Spending 20 minutes together can help you both decide if she is your best fit before you make your first appointment.