Building Blocks for Lasting Change
One of the starting places for therapy is to help clients make more contact with what is really happening in their lives. This sounds simple and straightforward (and sometimes is!) but when we are struggling and in pain, we are rarely functioning from a place of reality.
What I mean by this is that many of our perceptions, beliefs and emotional reactions are not based in what is actually happening right now, but are instead the result of imprints left from earlier painful experiences. What can result is a profound sense of unhappiness, and more often than not, helplessness or even powerlessness.
By working with me, you will gain awareness of how these imprints from the past and current patterns of perceiving may be impacting your life. With increased contact with what is really happening in our relationships and ourselves, we can make choices and changes that are congruent with that reality.
While more and more therapeutic modalities are focusing exclusively on behavioral changes, my clients continue to report benefits from understanding the origins of their current perceptions, feelings, thinking patterns and beliefs. I work with them to gain insight into why they feel how they feel and why they do what they do. They then undertake the task of using this new insight and understanding to effect and sustain the changes they want to make.
But insight alone is not enough to sustain change. Our patterns, dynamics, neuropsychological pathways, and habitual responses have been essential survival mechanisms for us. Insight is the first building block for change but integration is the glue that keeps new changes and patterns in place.
Utilizing insight to sustain changes requires us to integrate our new understandings into our deepest sense of self. Integration can occur in many ways and there is no "one size fits all" approach for successfully integrating new neural networks and behavioral patterns.
I do know that when I bring compassionate inquiry alive in our conversations, many of my clients have reported feeling seen, heard and understood. This is often the beginning of changing how they experience themselves and others. It is common for clients to have a new feeling of well-being and self-acceptance at this stage in our work.
As integration is taking place, we both work to continue to stay present with, and aware of, what is really happening, which in turn brings our deepest feelings and reactions to life. Compassion and active presence are the oxygen of emotional expression and I bring these qualities into my work with clients.
So then what happens when clients gain insight into why they feel, act, speak, and react as they do and then integrate that new understanding in a compassionate and non-judgmental way?
I have noticed that we are often inspired and energized in new ways that lead to increased spontaneity, excitement where choices and decisions can be made from a new sense of freedom and possibility. I have witnessed clients come alive in my presence as they begin to take their fresh perspectives, their self-compassion and understanding and incorporate it into new ways of being in contact with their lives.
Inspiration also comes to us in session as we begin to engage in improved ways of reacting to old patterns and neuropsychological dynamics. Together, my clients and I are often moved by the powerful and motivating effect that the work we do has on us both.
This may sound strange as the stereotypical depiction of therapists is remote, blank-faced and devoid of emotions. But I bring my full self into the room as a therapist (as most modern-day therapists do), which means that I am emotionally available and present as we work with whatever is happening at the moment.
Human emotions run the full spectrum from despair to elation and I am present with all of these feelings and am often touched by my clients' depth of emotion. Inspiration most often comes as the result of insight and integration and I encourage my clients to be open to these touching moments in therapy as well.
"In between stimulus and response there is a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom."