Oftentimes people coming to psychotherapy report that they are broken. Or inadequate. Or not enough. Or that something is missing. These strong feelings can be extremely painful, and they are heartfelt.
On occasion, it would be easy to fall into sharing these painful thoughts, and to then become part of an ongoing problem. For when a therapist buys into the idea that their client is defective, weak, unable to cope or somehow else inadequate, there is a long and difficult road ahead for them both.
Humans have a natural capacity to grow towards wholeness. Many traditions, both therapeutic and spiritual, remind us that however we feel, we are actually, in reality, already whole. Yes, our strength and vibrance may have become obscured, deeply buried even, by our life’s events and relational difficulties, but this does not mean that our full natural capacities are not there inside.
Psychotherapy is about sponsoring what is, both the strengths and hidden capabilities of clients, and the deep wounds that have yet to reveal their gifts and messages. For every symptom is a call to heal, every problem is a previous solution that no longer fits, and every client can with time and space find their own ways forwards. Sometimes this may a long path over quite some time, for not every piece of work is quick, and nor should it be.
Whether in short term work or long term care, it is the job of a psychotherapist to hold their clients as whole, and to be curious to discover with the client how this wholeness will reveal itself, and how healing and integration will emerge. We psychotherapists really, really, do not know the answers. We do however know some pretty good questions and we have a range of ways of working that can facilitate growth and change. Most of all, we can have faith in our clients, and their ability to grow and evolve. When we do, then the therapy begins. Where it will go, we don’t know, and therein lies our trust in our clients, ourselves, and the relational process we share. For what needs to happen will happen.