- Jed Murphree, LPC
I dwell in possibility
Choosing to come to therapy should never be seen as a defeat.
I shall repeat that statement for those that may be hard of hearing or a little bit stubborn - choosing to come to therapy should never be seen as a defeat. Yet, all too often, the messages that are associated with getting help, finding a therapist, talking it out; are met with negative stereotypes and misinformation.
I really want to de-stigmatize and simplify what I do professionally. Because, what I do is so often misunderstood.
Particularly here in the deep south, where I continue to encounter the mindset of: "nobody needs to knows what's going on with me or the family other than the happy face we put on it. They don't need to know". I have worked as an in-home therapist in a rural county in Alabama as I was cutting my teeth as a therapist, and I have heard that sentiment expressed in more than one way on many occasions. To put it bluntly, I have seen and heard some crazy shit in order for the people to avoid dealing with their shit.
So, I do therapy. I listen, I question, I observe, and I suggest. I challenge assumptions, pre-conceived notions, and ingrained patterns. How I do this is more of a philosophical question.
Philosophically, as a therapist:
"I dwell in possibility".
"My business is circumference".
These two lines, from separate poems by Emily Dickinson, explains it for me. The irony that Dickinson has been described as a "depressive" does not escape me. Regardless, professionally, this how I do what I do.
Being a therapist means helping to foster dignity and personal understanding. I aid others to create their own change. Mentally, the best place for me to be to do this kind of work is one that is open to change, that pays attention for something different, and encourages new exploration.
By exploration, I mean taking a hard look at your meanings and motives, consequences and fallouts, (thank you Esther Perel). And the thing I likely hear the most is "NO", "I can't", "it won't work", "I have no idea how", and every other variation of those statements that slams the door of trying something new. It's also very natural to resist change, even when it is staring you in the face and won't blink. Resistance is expected, it's great when it doesn't show up, it usually does, and resistance is why "my business is circumference".
It's my work around for dealing with resistance; just draw a larger circle, increase the circumference, and include more. I know people resist change, what motivates the resistance is just as important as what's being protected.
I realize this sounds esoteric and rather "woo-woo". So be it. Bear in mind, I'm writing about how I do this work, a mindset; not about the specific tools and techniques that I utilize. You can be very proficient with the tools, and still suck at being a therapist because you don't know your own how and why for your doing it.
Because my business is circumference, I ask people about their past, where they came from and how they got to here. I look for connections between old events, persistent themes, and current behaviors. I follow the clues like any other detective would, only I use the evidence I gather to promote the desired change for the participant. I can't lead someone where they don't want to go, and the participant sets the pace to all this, not me.
So we've arrived again to that part of my post where I tell you: that if something in your life needs to change and you're having a hard time making it happen, consider talking to someone about it. If need be, consider that person be a professional. If even for a short time, counseling can be very helpful for creating something better.
Just remember, mental health matters.