“Oh, you’re in for a roller coaster ride!” I said to my client who asked me what is therapy really going to be like. That was years ago, when I was just beginning my therapeutic practice.
Now, when I look back, I laugh out- loud; because I’m the one who was stepping on that very ride and I’m still on it years later! When I finished my formal training, fresh off my training wheels, raring to go, I never realised that my actual training had just begun!
Trained in the humanistic approach, words like empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard were the mantra to follow. Little did I know that following them for an hour’s session is easy, but living them takes a lifetime and a lot more to learn.
Learnings as a Therapist
A recent conversation with a fellow therapist set me thinking – what have I learnt in this unconventional training?
On the professional front, every client who stepped in my client room has been a teacher; a page turned further. One opened the world of attachment and how we live our attachments every day, even in therapy. Through her, I met Bowlby and Walin who helped me understand my adult attachment.
Another, going through an existential crisis brought me in touch with Bugental and Yalom; masters of the existential approach. They helped me understand the importance of finding meaning in life.
Yet another, struggling to individuate, led me to Bowen and the wonderful Virginia Satir- practitioners par excellence in the family systems paradigm. They taught me to appreciate the influence of family dynamics on our personality.
Learnings about Life
On the personal front, some things that came to mind were:
- A genuine, unconditionally loving, non-judgemental relationship with oneself can help foster a similar one with others.
- Much about life and people is grey, not black and white – which means that we can be good enough, rather than good or bad.
- Making the right choice for ourselves can often be a solitary place but also a peaceful one.
- While family, relationships & environment do define us, it is not set in stone. We are dynamic creatures capable of enormous transformation.
- Meaning in life is available to everyone – those that stumble upon it, those that seek it and those that build it.
Every client that walks in, I find myself adding and furiously turning page after page. Every turn in the roller coaster is a mixed bag of trepidation and excitement of things yet to learn; every turn and coast a journey of discovery for myself and the therapist in me; for I realised that both journeys are one.
The student in me bows in deep gratitude to all my clients – for allowing me to be a part of their ride and their gift of knowledge.
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