Some years ago, as we finished working together, a therapist gifted me a small bonsei tree. We had worked together for some time and we were both sad about our work coming to end as she moved on to pastures new.
That little tree grew very slowly for a long time, other than watering, it needed little care. It flowered regularly, its leaves fell and re-grew, and I took great comfort in tending it.
Not so long ago, I re-potted it into a bigger pot. To my astonishment its growth exploded, leaves expanding in size, becoming much more numerous, and shoots springing out all over the place. Before I knew it I could barely see the beautifully shaped trunk and branches beneath. It was clearly a vibrant plant, but in its riotous good health, something of its beauty had been lost.
Today it has been pruned. Once again, the timeless trunk is visible, and the shapely branches, new and old, give it a grace and a form that take my breath away. To achieve this, there has been much cutting away of the superflous, of the most visible. When this was stripped back, something more profound and meaningful emerged.
I am reminded of the process of therapy. I trained in neuro-lingistic programming (NLP), which can most succinctly be described as the study of the structure of experience. My role is to help clients to express what is happening at the surface, the thoughts, feelings, body sensations and energies that are disturbing and calling them to heal. Then, together, we model out what sits beneath and fuels this surface expression, allowing their deep patterns to emerge, and if needed, to be transformed by being brought out into the light.
To me talking therapy is not just about the story, the rights and wrongs of what has and is happening. It is so much more. It is an honest look at the repeating patterns that express themselves through our lives, and an invitation to understand how we construct our reality. As this structure becomes more evident, we can learn to free ourselves from that which obscures, and allow our true beauty to emerge.