- Jed Murphree, LPC
Therapy is a starting place
This is my own quick essay, so it's just my thoughts about therapy after having been in it from time to time, and what it means to do it as a professional for the past decade. I could back it up with citations for the women and men that I have read and have learned from to defend my point, and I won't. This is my opinion, it's little profane at times, and I hope you come away from the post with a little better understanding that the craft of what I do is really beautiful, messy, and necessary.
Therapy is a starting place, not one of endings. All too often it is seen as a last resort, something that happens when all else has failed or proven fruitless. With that sentiment, I wholly disagree, namely because it's really negative, but also because I've come to believe that "being at a bottom" is not required to make a change.
Therapy is about beginnings no matter when you start. It's about telling your story as to how you find yourself where you are now and what you would rather be. Just because you tell me about where you come from, those salient historic facts about yourself, in sequence or scattered about like confetti on the air, therapy is always about beginnings.
Doing something new, something risky, something vulnerable.
Therapy is about gentling.
For me, as the person who shepherds and guides the process that's meant to help you arrive at what might be a possibly far off destination, it's my job to keep you (and me) safe in the process, while you confront past decisions, old relationships, huge mistakes, periodic successes, and any of the hurt and confusion acquired along the way.
Along with all the other clinical shit that I know how to do that is therapeutic, what I feel like I give more than anything is an opportunity to learn to be more gentle with yourself - with your emotions, with you thoughts, and with others emotions and their thoughts.
Therapy is learning about what holds you back, undermines your contentment, and throws the proverbial "wrench in your works". The stuff that makes you feel disconnected and alone.
Or not take yourself so damn seriously, which so many of us do very, very regularly. That is not to belittle anyone's pain, for pain is real. However I see pain as a "call to action" for you do something about it, find ways to heal, which sometimes also hurts.
Therapy is not meant to be mystifying and should never be manipulative. It's showing up and showing you that despite whatever the diagnosis is, regardless of the hang-ups, notwithstanding the problems be they messy, complicated, confusing and contradictory, therapy is about learning to stop beating the ever-living shit out of yourself, accept where you are, and change. Those become your choices as to when and how and where. It's something I've heard said in more than one way, which is when you accept yourself as you are - only then can you change.
Therapy is way more than just my listening and asking the right questions. Therapy may be the only hour in a hectic week where you actually slow down and really take a look at your stuff.
Therapy is experiential, as most of it never even happens in the office, but out there in real world - more on that for another post.
Therapy is a starting place, not one of endings, and fresh starts are sometimes necessary.
Maybe you're ready to start and maybe you're not. Maybe someone has told you you should, or need it, or have to. Despite all that external pressure, it's what happens inside you that gets to make that call. False starts happen all the time. Those are still beginnings, and I expect them. I know I'm not the person who helps everyone. However, for those that those that need therapy, counseling, who would benefit from it, I suggest you forget the labels, move past the worry about diagnoses (I can help with that too), don't believe the negative hype and refuse the stigma, and heed your own "call to action"
Mental health matters.