A question for those in therapy, and grads

Hello. I am developing a long-planned Friday essay for our subscribers about how to choose a therapist. I have been mulling this idea for years, with my main hesitation being: when I needed and found someone to work with, I got truly lucky. I was given a name by an unlikely person — someone who was having an affair with my then-girlfriend. And I did very well: 18 years later I still know, love, and benefit from Joe Trusso’s presence in my life. I have sent many friends and astrology clients to him with excellent feedback.

I’ve put the question of how to choose a therapist to a few of my close colleagues who are in the business, and I would like to put the question to you. If you are in therapy and you feel like you’re making progress, how did you find out about your therapist? How did you choose him or her? How long was it before you figured out that this was the right person for you to work with?

For those more daring, willing to go on record, I am curious what it feels like to work with the person you’re working with, and in what form you feel that progress comes. How long have you been working with the same person?

Next, for those who are not in therapy but have considered it, I am curious for your thoughts about that. What is your hesitation? What do you feel you could gain? Who or what has influenced your values?

Thank you for your thoughts. Please enter them below, or email to me at info@planetwaves.net with the subject header Therapy, so that I can find them when I need to sort through my email.

ef

61 thoughts on “A question for those in therapy, and grads

  1. Linda,

    And — much of what I apply here I learned in therapy, and Hakomi therapy training; and much from other mentors as well. Then for 15 years I worked in process with people, learning something essential about myself in every session. This has been a trip along the edge.

    I think that therapy itself is misunderstood, and that there is a lack of truly wise people accessible and available. If there is not authentic trust, there is no process. That’s the great benefit and the biggest problem. Scott Peck may call it love; I think they are shades of the same thing, though trust is easier to understand and not nearly so burdened a word.

    As for the person I’ve done the best work with, who continues to keep one eye out on my work because I invite him to, I sometimes cannot believe that he even went into therapy at all, as he as precisely the opposite personality type you would expect; and I am grateful that I ever got to know of his existence and work with him.

    All of what you say, by the way, is why I have had so much difficulty writing this article. I know how much damage therapists can do, and I know that when you go to one, generally you’re in a compromised state and not in a position to be truly discerning.

    The same is true with astrologers. In my case, however, the people who come to me have had a year or five or 10 or 15 years of reading my work, tracking my growth and listening to my voice to think about whether to come in. We don’t get that with 99% of therapists, most of whom have few if any original ideas and many of those who have ideas don’t write. So this is a challenging issue.

    e

  2. Eric,

    I have chosen to date not to respond to this simply because I have never had a truly GOOD long-term interaction with any therapist. For some reason, today’s the day to say something.

    I have found whether paying $300/hour or receiving free therapy, that while there can be all good intentions, therapists in general are still caught up in their own isolated POVs and generically unable to actually apply themselves to the minds,souls,ideas and ideals of the person across the room. There can be much good done, but much much harm too – and it is up to the individual receiving the therapy to be able to discern this. Unfortunately, the very nature of WHEN we FINALLY choose to receive therapy generally negates this opportunity for clarity.

    Perhaps it has something to do with the timer that ends the session just when things are getting ripe, perhaps it has to do with personal hang-ups perhaps it has to do with PC environments ( as you have suggested – things like, don’t talk about SEX) et al.

    My personal opinion is that any therapy should be taken with a grain of salt, personal perspective, an understanding going in that the therapist has their own limitations, and that therapy is only one very small tool in the tool-box of personal wellness. This last point being perhaps the most important.

    I believe PW and the conversation among community here is a much more important “tool” than many therapy sessions often are. (Communication, Honesty, Fearless Expression, etc.)

    And thanks for that.
    xo

  3. Lesley,

    Try this. It’s not about narcissism per se, but it’s a good book about mother and daughter relationships that will be a great start, addressing the severe overlaps between mothers and daughters.

    This link takes you to “look inside” — skip ahead past all the front stuff to the introduction to the new edition and the first chapter.

    Several readers have recommended The Drama of the Gifted Child, which addresses abuse and neglect as well.

    ef

  4. Oh my. Your comments on narcissistic mothers really struck a chord with me – I started doing some reading and while I have realised for years what my mother is like, having those characteristics grouped together was enlightening. Scarily, it made me realise the tendency in myself and so many of the people I surround myself with – husband, loved ones, work colleagues. I feel so much lighter with the awareness and so much better equipped to deal with two major stresses in my life at the moment. Thank you, L.

    PS. If anyone can recommend good books on the subject, I would really appreciate it!

  5. Hi Eric,

    Your discussion of therapy has moved me to try to describe some general and specific difficulties I have encountered in my therapy experience(s), especially since my last run of therapy ended abruptly and in the middle of a difficult wound which I simply could not find the capacity to try to keep addressing with that person (even while I was longing to go back to her).

    One of the biggest dilemas , I think, is the question: “Is this a difficult issue I am running from, or is this person genuinely not quite right for me as a therapist?”

    One type of genuine experience for me in that setting is the emergence of selves that surprise me; selves with whom I am getting acquainted simultaneously with the therapist; often quite vulnerable selves. They are  innocent in the sense of being completely, authentically who they are just by the virtue of their existence.  hmmm…. that kind of sounds like a child.

    Some of them go back in to hiding quite quickly if the perceived atmosphere isnt just right or if they are not seen or understood. To have the sense that from that place one is understood can be overwhelming in its profundity. To have it withdraw or be misunderstood can be devastating beyond belief. After having done a certain amount of therapy with a few differnt people over the last 20 years, I am still uncertain as to how to best facilitate my own healing within therapy. Of course, ‘therapy” is a container word for many, many diverse methods and attitudes, from Dr. Phil to Somatic work (eg, Hakomi, Somatic Experiencing) to therapists who also have shamanic training and on and on.

    I am moved to participate in your discussion because I have been feeling the need to find a therapist and when I re-enter that adventure, I want to know that it is someone who can meet me where I need to be met.  

    I cant tell you how good it feels in my body to have articulated some of this.  

    Thanks for your work,

    Tom

  6. I’m looking for a good therapist in Sydney, Australia. I’ve been looking for quite awhile and have seen a few different therapists but can’t find the right click with any. Does anyone know if there is a therapist out there who has a professional background as well as astrology or metaphysical etc knowledge that they bring to the session?
    I’d love to know!!!

  7. “A lot of people get waylaid by the practice of magic and mysticism without adequate grounding. And such often avoids the real things we have to learn in life. It may be fun to cavort with demons or entities, but that doesn’t mean your parents still don’t run your life. etc… Actual, honest therapy is a good start because when therapy works, the result is grounding in self. ”

    Yes, you’re absolutely right Eric. And I’ve just read your comment 32 (always in rather a rush I’m afraid, as I only have a computer at work). And I also read your latest article about relationships and found it fascinating and immensely helpful. Your work at shedding light on the darker side of sexuality is very precious and (I have to admit) also very challenging at times. When I have more time I’d like to take you up on your generous offer.
    Much love xxx

  8. Huffy, direct knowledge as you are describing takes preparation and devotion. I agree that it’s possible to attain. Aleister Crowley describes some prerequisites prior to a person embarking on such a journey.

    These include being proficient in at least one science to the degree of being able to perform experiments, and being proficient in one sport to the degree of being able to compete. He lists about four or five more. These are designed to provide grounding. Let’s add: speaking a foreign language and having lived or traveled abroad for a while; the regular practice of some visual art and some written art. (Old Therion [AC] gives his list in The Book of Thoth.) Kabbalists say you have to be over 40, be married and have kids to practice that art form — it’s so powerful you need grounding.

    A lot of people get waylaid by the practice of magic and mysticism without adequate grounding. And such often avoids the real things we have to learn in life. It may be fun to cavort with demons or entities, but that doesn’t mean your parents still don’t run your life.

    When we embark on a true mystical path, sex comes up; shadow material comes up; death comes up; the issues of power and its use/abuse come up; many things come up, and there are not so many people who are prepared, and not so many who can assist us. And not so many who can help if we get lost. When we speak of the mysteries, we’re talking about: sex, death, the origin of humanity, a conscious relationship to the natural world, and most of all, the mystery of consciousness itself.

    Actual, honest therapy is a good start because when therapy works, the result is grounding in self.

    I feel fairly confident that the process I am describing and illustrating in Book of Blue is a workable intermediate process in self-awareness, which initially seems based on sexual self-awareness but which is actually about self-forgiveness and the integration of shadow material. One sample chapter is below, at comment 32.

    I would ask: how does it feel to read that?

    If it feels productive and a little daring and real, you’re invited to drop me a note introducing yourself and I will reply either with questions or a password to the full website. I prefer requests that include a photograph with your eyes visible, and a little background about what draws you to the work.

  9. Yes, but the true mystic journey (rather than the “mystic smystic” journey) is about taking away all the veils, in order to know the true face of God – which I believe is a metaphor for seeing things, and oneself, as they truly are. But I’m pretty ignorant on this matter because I grew up without religious doctrine (thank ‘God’!), and am an agnostic. xxx

  10. Mysticism is the opposite of therapy. The idea of therapy is to build a grounded relationship based on trust and demystification of the self.

    Mysticism is about exploring the mysteries, often staying there endlessly; and nowhere have I seen healing, growth or awareness stated as goals of mysticism. To me it’s a dangerous concept because it’s so slippery; “mystic,” “mystical” and “mysticism” are among the few words I have banned from my writing for this reason.

    What exactly is a mystic? Well, it’s all very mysterious, and mysticism profits from such.

    The idea of therapy is to pull back the veil, including on many types of personality mysticism such as “feminine mystique” and “elusive guy” and all the reasons we are drawn to these things. Even romance has a certain mysticism to it that is alluring and often disappointing because it rarely fulfills its promises.

  11. Sorry St Brigit, only read Sarah’s posting! That’s what comes of being in a hurry. Still – maybe I should check her out…

  12. Hi Sarah – St Brigit, hmm – don’t know her, must check her out, thanks for the suggestion. I think that the true mystic is profoundly practical and has a deep understanding of what torments us all – unlike so many of the “spiritual quacks” out there.

  13. Huffy – Drama of the Gifted Child is a great book to start understanding dynamics, isn’t it?

    st.brigit – How about mystical therapists? Are they mutually exclusive? I don’t think so.

  14. Hi Eric,
    just read your fantastic post about narcissistic mothers. I too have one of those and battled with it for a long long time before I understood it and began to deal with it. Wanted to mention again the book I emailed you about, Alice Miller’s The drama of the gifted child. It really helped me when I read it. Not that you need it any more – but someone might find it useful, as I did – and it’s a fascinating read. I’m only sorry she didn’t write one about narcissistic fathers…!
    So true what Sarah Taylor writes – good for you! Haven’t had time to read all the posts yet – but have seen that there’s some crackling stuff in there!
    xxx

  15. Hi Eric,

    At first, i wasn’t sure I should respond since my most meaningful therapy was more than 25 years ago but I read the comments and I do feel that I have something to offer. I was 29, feeling I should break up with my boyfriend but not wanting to, depressed , anxious, wondering if life was worth living it had become so painful. I was worried about my last thought so I called a hotline and was referred to a resident psychiatrist at a local teaching hospital. At my first meeting with him I was not particularly impressed since he didn’t offer any anti-anxiety medication and he ended by saying that it was apparent to him that I had a problem with men. I was so ANGRY that I went back just to see what he meant by that.

    I cannot label his approach except to call it “Freudian.” I was not allowed to ask him any personal questions, I could not really get to know him on a personal level, there was no judgement of me and we would only talk about what I wanted to talk about. He hardly spoke and certainly not at length about anything, except once when I was wondering if I should leave therapy. I wasn’t really finished – and I said it was obvious he didn’t care. When he showed more emotion than I had ever seen him display and told me he felt like he had “to wrestle me from the door,” I knew that we were truly in it together. I stayed for one year – once a week – and during that year, I became an entirely different person, healthier, happier – like my personality was restructured. Friends commented on the difference. I felt that my eyes were full of love and that I was able to make better choices.

    As Scott Peck pointed out in The Road Less Traveled, the relationship between therapist and client must become a genuinely loving one in order to work. My therapist became like a father to me (even though he was closer to my age and I was madly in love with him) and I was successfully “reparented.” It was without a doubt one of the more successful events of my life and I will never forget it (or him).

    I have dabbled with therapy at stressful times in subsequent years and it has always been helpful – in terms of bringing insights into my behavior but no other therapy experience compares to this one. I do believe therapy is worth it with the right person. For me, finding the right person was just lucky!

    Therapy is a spiritual growth experience, but it is not the only way for the spirit to grow. My spiritual practices these days lead me in a similar direction, but I would not hesitate to return to therapy if I felt the need.

  16. Like Eric said, I do believe that core sexual issues are the reason for most visits to mental health helpers. (Did I get that idea right, Eric?) It’s certainly true for me, though I’m having a heck of a time expressing my need to address this issue with a therapist.

    When meeting with a therapist for the first time, how can I suss out his or her willingness to go there with me? I have been an artist, a deep delver from my early to late 20s (where I am now) and have learned by gnosis a great deal, though there is so much more to gain from unlocking those storehouses, fondling and polishing the gems instead of storing them away. It’s time to gather it up my insights and present them for deep acceptance and integration . . . bejewel myself with this wisdom.

    I think there really is a lack of precedent for telling these sexual self-stories. It is also true that my wounds with the feminine, which also spurred the exploration of myself as a sexual female, keep me from feeling safe in sharing very much of myself, especially to other women. I feel like I’d have at least a M.A. in a system that gave credit for this work, but I also think most people would stereotype my pursuits as the anathema of serious work.

    I’m a Pisces/Virgo moon/Venus in Aries/Leo rising. How that translates into daily life: energetic instinct to flow with whatever projection I sense coming from the other; underneath it all, strong Virgo sense of integrity resists and resents and tells my Pisces self to swim away asap; Aries and Leo need to do something about the isolation and passivity that results; Pisces comes up with lots of ideas to fix things, but has a hard time presenting a focused story to anyone who might listen; Virgo goes into discretion overdrive and finds lots of reasons why any of the people I could work with aren’t right for the job.

    With my Saturn return last year, I really have come to a turning point. My dreams point to change and initiation. Anyone have a similar story or suggestions for finding a guide to work with?

    Peace and Love,
    Pisces

  17. Starlight Bridge, (or st.brigit), ..And where are the Mystics.. You? I?

    I agree, (but I have to play a little rough here..)

    ..A lot of folks don’t grasp the power they wield,.. It’s a journey that takes one through lifetimes beyond lifetimes..

    ..If it works, and LOVE is what one finds, great!, If…. then..?

    ..I’ll be bold enough,.. We, I, You, are the power of the cosmos..

    ..You already SEE that,.. (we should all honor the long life of flies,.. even as we swat them down)

    Love

    Jere

  18. Forget ` therapy`…it can only take you so far.

    Go and sit with The Mystics….that`s where the REAL juice is.

  19. Jan, this thread is a public document. When I sent enquiries to our Colleagues and Contributors lists, I said that I was using the material for an article. I did my best to post every reply to the comment area, along with the replies that were submitted by the regular contributors to this area. So you may select from this comment thread or refer your students here to read the whole thing. I will leave out names except when referring to working therapists who have already given permission to be quoted. My understanding is that you’re using this to teach, not to publish; if you want to publish anything, you can do that by quoting from the article that I release in a week or two. We have opened up a database here. This is good encouragement — I have some other topics that are on this level, such as adoption.

  20. I’ll say more about the concept of prominence later – of what makes a planet prominent – but let’s start with: you infer from the client’s story to the chart placement rather than the other way. I recognize that I seem to defy this doing various reports, but I have another information source doing those reports that I tend to depend on a bit less when I have a client who is there to tell me what is happening in their life.

    For sacred prostitute markers from the client, notice when the pattern of relationships is unconventional and the person doesn’t understand why. They may be frustrated and ‘cannot start a normal relationship’. He or she keeps having to give himself or herself in service to various situations, but it’s not classical codependency, i.e., not a longterm, abusive, enabling relationship. The client may actually come out and say something about their understanding that they have the role of a sacred prostitute, which is unlikely unless they are given consent to do so in some way (meaning that you acknowledge in advance that you’re not judging this quality of their life). They may admit some awareness of the use of sexuality and ‘sacred companionship’ in a facilitating context, i.e., listen to the pattern of relationships wherein the client does not get something back that would be considered normal; look for the reciprocity pattern. The person has unusual qualities of devotion without understanding them. There is a conscious relationship to fire. There may be dreams of suffocation or being buried alive as punishment for something.

    Prominence of the planet can mean conjunct the Sun, the Moon or an angle of the chart (i.e., rising or the highest planet); it can mean in a stellium with other planets; it can mean in a prominent aspect to Chiron, preferably in aspect to the chart’s angles; it can mean conjunct a galactic point like the GC or the Great Attractor. This placement will give you insight into what the client has already said, and the house and signs involved will fill in the story (i.e., I have Cancer and N Node rising, with Moon/Vesta/Aquarius in the 8th house — Vesta is expressed in group environments with an 8th house theme, but the point of origin is my node/ascendant conjunction). Vesta on one of the nodes is a clue; it may glare out, like Chiron/Vesta/node. If you see a prominent placement, you may have to listen for a while before you hear the patterns necessary to make the connection.

    Look at Betty Dodson’s chart for a good example. Look at her life for a better one. Here is that article. Her Vesta is in the last diagram at the bottom of the article.

    What you do with the information is another story. With Vesta, there will always be an extra level of awareness of the purpose of relating, rather than the fact that ‘it just happens’ or ‘it’s just what I want’ but the client may be in conflict because their values conflict with that of the culture, their family, their friends, and so on. To work with this the practitioner needs to have a good understanding of what is up, and this is best gained from personal experience, from the inside out. If that experience isn’t there, I suggest delaying the conversation till the practitioner has time to inquire of someone who does have that experience.

    The concept of ‘sacred prostitution’ has historically been used as a ruse for ordinary prostitution, so you have to be careful here. Be careful the terms that you use.

  21. Thank you Eric. Very cool, beautiful discussion. Would love to see more on evolution of sacred sexuality, tantric roots. Glad to know about the peer-to-peer happening, will reflect more on that as well.
    Would like to ask permission to writers on this thread to share some of their offerings with students in my naturopathic medicine counseling skills class. There is great accumulated wisdom here, and it will benefit so many others.

    Blessings!

  22. Hello Jan,

    Interesting thoughts about sexual surrogacy; it’s not quite what I had in mind, and I recognize this as being one of the great missing terrains in therapy. And, problematic as it may be, sex workers often do fill in the void to the extent that it’s filled.

    However, there is something that’s commonly being referred to as ‘tantric practitioner’ that is blending some of the consciousness process of therapy with direct sexual experience. In 1997, I was keynote speaker at the Celebration of Sacred Sexuality in Harbin, CA. The creator of the conference, a psychologist named Deborah Taj Anapol, invited me to speak about the astrology in a presentation that I called “Leaping Across the Sky” about the aspect of Chiron square Uranus (Scorpio to Aquarius, with its obvious contact point between group awareness and relational sexual awareness). There is an article by that title in Google somewhere. This came about after I had Deb on my then-weekly radio program, Radio Navigator on WDST-Woodstock.

    After the conference there was a meeting of people who were actively doing sexwork. Even at that time I considered myself a sexworker because as an astrologer I was (and am) available for the discussion of sexual subject matter; I work within the tradition of sexual enlightenment and liberationism; and at conferences, I was (and am) available for my compersion workshops. About 50 other people showed up for this meeting, which was in the main lodge to accommodate it. These were all people who, on some level, had stepped up to the challenge of offering themselves as those who could directly help raise sexual awareness with those coming in from the public.

    Some of them were available for sex sessions; others, like myself, were writers, consultants or taught at programmed events. It was at this conference that I met a woman I would go on quite a journey with – Maria Henzler, my first erotic photography partner. My point being that this is a significant, loosely organized movement, though one that is fortunately not regulated.

    I think we need to start on this level — unlicensed, uncertified, from an older tradition. This helps level the power imbalance that might be associated with any kind of authority granted permission by the state. Group environments help diffuse that power as well. I think the place to begin is on the peer-to-peer level. There are some people who are just good at helping others unravel their sexual material; it’s what they do whether they intend to or not (including people who draw to them those who are wound up and want to let go). I also think that art and writing are an excellent vector for ideas and conveyance of the ‘energy picture’ of how this process works. That is what I am doing with Book of Blue. You really need pictures to get this idea across, if you want to talk to the side of the brain that does not parse logic.

    There are many people who are naturally gifted sexual healers. Some of them come to me for readings and have for years (including a good few women who are sexworkers already, or who want to go into the business) needing some confirmation of what they are feeling or sensing; that their inner knowledge base is real; that they are not dreaming. There is still plenty of shame associated with feeling this calling, and there are very few frameworks within which gaining an understanding or gaining information is possible. Needless to say I see a strong Vesta placement in almost all of these people. When I did a study of the charts of sex workers at an ‘aqua massage’ brothel in Belgium, very few had Vesta prominent (it was the Moon that stood out in those charts, leading me to observe the boundary differences, and other differences, involved).

    And difficult power dynamics are still possible, within a society wherein most people are convinced that sex must always have a victim. This is going to be the first thought we exchange for something else, along this journey.

    ef

  23. Like nance, I have been seeing an energy worker (kinesiologist) regularly for the last ten years for help with clearing physical, emotional and spiritual blocks. The times I tried traditional talk therapy I found it too mental. I needed some body and soul, and the work I have done over the years with my kinesiologist has provided me with that balance.

    When I started seeing a kinesiologist ten years ago, I was deeply depressed and my body was sending signals that it was not going to stick around if I did not do a major house-cleaning of all the emotional baggage I had stuffed into it and asked it to hold. A good friend who I had done creative work with for years gave me the number of an energy worker she felt could help. And she did. What I find most helpful about the work is that it is guided by what my body, soul, and mind make a priority—she facilitates the communication and then works to help release what is stuck. The work has also helped hone my intuition and helped me feel more connected spiritually.

  24. My first time, I was in a group family therapy (with mom, younger sister and myself) after my parents divorced and I was in college. It was my mom’s idea to start (and her idea to stop) and they were miserable hours for many reasons that I won’t bore you with. The therapist was an older man, who I don’t remember saying much, seemed tired most of the time, and who I felt rather sorry for, for having to deal with us.

    In 2005, I reached a point (after losing a job, bad luck with men, still fighting with my mother) where I knew I needed help, but with no clue how to shop for a talk therapist. I had one session with an older woman therapist picked from an insurance list, who in my memory seemed not alive- she hardly moved or talked. And then I had a session with a man therapist who was recommended by a friend, and seemed to be more engaging with me. Not knowing any better, I did not ask these doctors any questions about their philosophies, techniques, credentials, etc. I don’t think I could articulate what I was looking for, but chose the male doctor out of pure gut reaction, and that I felt he talked to me more than the other one did.

    I got really lucky-I’m still seeing this therapist. For the first year, I see-sawed between the feeling that therapy was not working because I didn’t feel any different (ie: less depressed) or that I must be getting better as a matter of fact, simply because I was in therapy for a year. I had this attitude at the time that if I attended therapy like a good student, then eventually I would have to get a good grade and get better automatically. It seemed to be icing on the cake to have a nice guy as my doctor, who was easy to talk to, had a sense of humor, and had a range of spiritual experiences that made him seem broad thinking. I had no clue as to the work I had to do.

    It’s only been within the past couple of years in hindsight that I realise what we have gone through and what the work was about- how I learned to trust him, how he worked to gain my trust, and how he slowly helped me “see” what my problems truly were, often patiently addressing themes and ideas over and over because I often I was not “getting it” until weeks, months, sometimes years later. He is my mirror, helping me to see things differently or clearer. Even though I never thought I would be talk therapy this long, I don’t regret it now because he has helped put in the foundation of healing ideas that have made other therapies that I’ve sought (like meditation, astrology, feng-shui, energy therapy, acupuncture) much easier and effective.

    Thank you folks so much, for sharing all your experiences. And Eric, thank you for sharing your “A-ha!” moments; even though it’s a very familiar topic between my therapist and myself, I did feel that a lightbulb went off when you wrote of narcissistic mothers.

  25. ..Hey, someone mentioned speaking to their child regarding death, I think that is beyond cool! I personally don’t regard death as an end all, or even a Major Transition,.. it’s pretty Light to me. I’ve died over again in this reality. I respect those for their values, I respect those of their belief. And, I truly respect those of conviction…

    ..but truly, I respect those of Understanding..

    LOVE,

    Jere

  26. What do I think constitutes a good therapist? Compassion, acceptance, humility, and an open mind. A great sense of humor is key, and some life experience, if possible. A dedication to the work, possibly a “calling”; an ability to love their clients/patients, to mentally/emotionally/spiritually take them home with them, cry with/for them, dream of them, root for them, get angry for them, get angry with them, make mistakes, ask forgiveness, admit their limitations, keep working to remove them. An ability to be real, to show up, to feel. To celebrate.

    Donald Winnicott, a remarkable psychoanalyst, had some things to say on the role of the therapist that I think also apply here: “Professional work is quite different from ordinary life…All this started up with Hippocrates. He perhaps founded the professional attitude. The medical oath gives a picture of a man or woman who is an idealized version of the ordinary man or woman in the street. Yet that is how we are when professionally engaged. Included in the oath is the promise that we do not commit adultery with a patient. Here is a full recognition of one aspect of the therapeutic relationship, the patient’s need to idealize the doctor, to fall in love with him or her, to dream. I want to state that the working analyst is in a special state, that is, his attitude is professional. What the patient meets is surely the professional attitude of the analyst, not the unreliable men and women we happen to be in private life.”

    I wanted to include Winnicott’s observations along with my own experience and training as a Modern Psychoanalyst, gained over the past 30 years, because it is important to understand that, while we may be personally unreliable as people, as therapists we’re held to a higher standard with our clients and patients. We’re expected, by oath and by license and by law, to understand the vulnerabilities of the people coming to us for help, and to not exploit those vulnerabilities. That is why we don’t have sex with our patients, even when we find them attractive and feel enormous chemistry, even when our own marriages or relationships aren’t satisfying, or when they are, but there is room for something/someone else. It’s also why we don’t ask our financial expert patients for stock tips, and why we don’t criticize the patients we think are poor parents or bad partners. It’s why we don’t tell a patient to “leave the bum” or otherwise give an unfiltered opinion. I offer this as caution to prospective patients/clients, having taught ethics to psychology students, massage therapists, and naturopathic medical students. If your therapist is doing any of these things, it is a violation of the therapeutic realtionship. It is not your fault, and you should leave the relationship, perhaps even filing a professional complaint.

    Finally, I want to respond to Eric about the ability to explore sexuality in the treatment situation, which is not the same as sexual acting out on the part of the therapist or the patient. One of the best therapists I ever had the privilege of working with as a colleague was a Sexual Surrogate, someone who was trained to engage sexually with a patient in order to help the patient understand and overcome obstacles to normal, healthy sexual experience. Rosalie was a bright, compassionate healer who performed an amazing service with men who were inexperienced, ashamed, repressed, or damaged and, as a result, could not experience healthy sexuality in a relationship of mutual consent. Rosalie engaged in a relationship with these men that was educational, repairative, and respectiful. And sanctioned by the state as an ancillary to Sex Therapy treatment. Rosalie’s profession, however, was not respected in the field of psychology. When I contacted my local psychological association to ask for referrals for a sexual surrogate for one of my patients, the person who took my call said “Sex surrogate?! Why don’t you just get them a prostitute?!” Demonstrating, of course, how maligned and misunderstood that profession is as well.

  27. I’ve gone to the same psychiatrist since 1976. I picked her because I got her name from the Women’s Switchboard in SF after I spent a week on the floor of my new apartment, terrified that I was going to throw myself out the window. My criteria was that she be a sympathetic Jungian feminist open to the irrational. The therapy has changed a little over the years with the advances of new medication, but what she does is primarily dreamwork and talk. I have some close friends who also go to her and we’ve formed a sisterhood. I’m a bipolar Aries, Aquarius rising, Leo moon, mostly depressed. She’s helped me through so many crises; she’s been the constant. Occasionally I’ve gone to other therapists, but that only showed me how good she is. Plus she’s open and approving of medical marijuana, which we have in California.

  28. Forbidden Self

    an entry from Book of Blue.

    pic(caption). I watched them make love. Photo by Eric.

    Think of the self who doubts, who is afraid, who is ashamed, who regrets, who feels guilt, as a distinct entity within you. This is the ‘self’ whose eyes avoid you in the mirror, or who you avoid. The one who sometimes stalks you and sometimes seduces. But so often leaves you in pain.

    You may imagine what it would be like to be free of this entity – and you may have experiences of doing so. One moment you may be familiar with is those moments of unfettered freedom as you get close to orgasm. These are the times when you can allow yourself to feel your pleasure and admit your true needs.

    I have a fantasy that may make it into a SciFi novel some day about a database that records everyone’s thoughts and fantasies in the last 10 seconds before they let go. That’s when we find out what we’re really made of. For some it’s a little more than 10 seconds and with some practice you can go into that room and explore freely for hours. It’s in that space where all resistance goes away and the rich desires come out. They may involve being seen. They may involve same sex experiences. They may involve people you would not normally think of. These are your honest, unfiltered desires.

    So what’s this entity that blocks them for us, and tortures us with doubt and regret? We don’t have to give it a name yet. Let’s get familiar with it and see if we can distinguish it from who we really are. Part of how this critter works is to convince us that _it is us_ rather than something that is running loose within us, supposedly with a life of its own. How that convincing process happens is, well, let’s put it this way. It’s easy, if we don’t know the alternative, and the way that alternative, core self, real self, got hidden from our view, is by being shamed and experiencing pleasure being taken away or what you might call shadowed over.

    Make no mistake: to the extent that psychological damage is possible, this qualifies. And for most people, most of the time, this shame-based entity is what runs the show. When we look closely at its constituents we find many different emotions that I’ve mentioned, and we find the presence of authority. This is the authority that we’ve internalized, though often we project that guilt outward onto the spouse, the parents, the boss, the police, the priest, the pope, or God. It can show up as body shame or body images, disgust or distaste. Many men project shame onto their semen, and it tends to rush into awareness in the moments after ejaculation.

    When you get in front of the mirror and seek to pull away the veil, this is the authority you’re confronting. It is not years of conditioning but rather generations of conditioning that you’re working to see through and unravel. These feelings, usually cast off and thrown away, or suppressed from awareness, is what we need to consciously integrate back into ourselves.

    While that may seem painful, the ‘negative’ emotions contained in this shadow self burn hot. We all know the experience of indulging that which is forbidden. Here, we are walking into a forbidden self and entering into relationship – an inner relationship – with it.

    This relationship starts privately and often silently. Yet in the spirit and pleasure of truthseeking, at some point we share: for our own benefit, and for the nourishment of the other.

  29. I have had some truly awful ones.  However, the first person I seriously worked with was a former nun – head of her order, a jazz singer, and a great therapist.  I went to her simply because she worked for an agency that was giving me free therapy (I had no money to spare).  I had been working with a nice young woman who was not great as a therapist.  At the end of our time (she had been doing supervised work to complete her education) when she went out on her own, she told me she hadn’t always known how to help me.

    From my point of view, she was the perfect therapist for me at the time.  She gently led me into what I had been resisting, and reassured me, in many ways, that I could face what I needed to face.  That was exactly perfect!

  30. I simply adored my shrink and I miss her … it’s been over ten years and times I am sorry to have moved from Washington as she was just so … perfect for me, well at least then. She had a way of inviting me to do things, engage with others emotionally, that I would never have done otherwise. I liked that about her and didn’t know that was important for me in a shrink. I found her in the yellow pages!! of all places during a rather critical period. Incredible, that. I grew up in the place and only knew a handful of shrinks and wasn’t moved with the few that I tried. Anyone in the dc area need a name, she’s a treasure.

    mm.

  31. Thank you, Eric, and everyone else, for your courageous posts. Yours in particular struck a chord, Eric. Narcissistic mothers. You can spend half a lifetime trying to decipher your ass from your elbow because you buy into the story. When I realised that there was another way of seeing myself, it was like being dragged into a parallel universe – and not a particularly comfortable one at that, because it runs counter to everything that I thought I knew and believed in. A painful rebirth. (But no consciousness without pain, hey?)

  32. hi Eric
    I’ve been meaning to drop you a line for… well, was going to say months,
    but shamefully it’s more like a couple of years. I’m a manically busy
    astrologer/tarot bod – I live on the Greek island of Lefkada where I run my
    Greek Island Summer School for all levels of astrology and tarot, I write
    copious amounts for UK magazines and manage to squeeze in client work
    whenever I can. I absolutely love your stuff – in fact I turn to you for
    inspiration when my own well runs dry. I’m a truth freak Sag, with Jupiter
    in Scorpio on the Asc, and I consistently resist churning out crap and try
    to stay true to the real astrology as it unfolds around us. It’s 100%
    obvious to me that you have the same philosophy.

    I don’t know if I can make a meaningful contribution here but just wanted to
    say that my experience of 8 years of therapy coincided with my first term at
    The Company of Astrologers in London – back in 1986 (what??? how did that
    happen…) when my search for meaning, understanding, seemed to erupt in a
    voracious hunger for any avenue that allowed self exploration. I think I
    “overdid” therapy – it resulted in a lot of navel gazing that wasn’t always
    helpful – but the lessons learned really kicked in when I moved to Greece
    May 95 with a rucksack, my ephemerides adn a pack of tarot cards. I came for
    three weeks… and never went back.

    It was a fellow astrology student who recommended my therapist – so I think
    the point is that word of mouth is incredibly powerful, mostly because word
    of mouth is most likely to come from someone who is, or has been, on a
    similar life journey. I didn’t specifically think “need someone spiritual”
    although she did turn out to be incredibly spiritual, in the sense that she
    was massively into goddess work (altho she didn’t let that seep in for a
    long time) but she was the first person to say that trying to be an
    astrologer wasn’t ridiculous (my father) but amazing and magical and
    exciting … she gave me the confidence to say in answer to what do you do?
    “I am an astrologer” – I can still remember the first time I said it, felt
    like a fraud, but knew it was true and would become truer. Now have two
    books published in 10 languages and am at saturation point with work and of
    course father now thinks I walk on water…. better late than never, and of
    course now it’s a gentle satisfaction rather than The Answer to everything
    else.

    It was Socrates who said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Hey,
    nothing new under the Sun then. I personally wish that therapy was
    mandatory – and I love the way that astrology allows me to wear my
    therapist’s “hat” along with the diviner’s one. Ultimately, working with a
    therapist alongside my astrol studies led me to this life, one in which I
    now do a lot of good which is deeply humbling and gratifying, and I’m
    incredibly lucky. So obviously I did have the “right” therapist and if
    nothing else, if therapy can reinforce your right to be you, which in effect
    is what astrology says too, then it’s well worth the effort of finding that
    person and being prepared to put in the work.

    Thanks Eric for all your emails that i read voraciously – don’t know how I
    got on your list but am very glad that I did,
    let me know if you ever want to visit Lefkada,
    warmest wishes
    Joanna
    xx

  33. I have had two important one-session experiences with therapists. I have some serious mother abandonment stuff: as in decades on end (once, a spell of 23 years), and she breaks up with me like I’m a boyfriend or ignores me like she’s a haughty teenage girl. I didn’t understand this and I was really struggling, wondering how it was vaguely possible that I could have a woman in my life who loves me if I don’t have my mother’s love. (Note that thus far, my public relations position toward her has been extremely kind and complimentary, so please don’t be confused if you’ve read that stuff. I am focusing on the positive, having decoded her quite well at this point. Here is the story of how I started to do that.)

    One day in 2004 I was reading the Seattle Weekly in a cafe and found an advertisement in bold text in the top left corner of the back page personals — offering the services of a psychologist helping women with mom abandonment issues. I called her up and asked if she would work with a man; she said yes.

    I showed up, sat down and said: I don’t need therapy. I work with people, so I know. You’re a psychologist and I need information that your education might provide.

    She said, okay, tell me the story. And I told her the story of my mom, which she cut off after about three minutes, politely and confidently, stop stop I get it. Listen to this. Your mother has classical narcissism. It is a disease, like cancer or leukemia. You don’t really exist in her mind; you’re just an extension of her, useful as long as you support her beliefs, and useless otherwise. Your personality formed around her narcissistic personality, as an extension of it, which is why you have so little confidence in who you are.

    That set me free. We talked briefly about my plan to go to Europe (to go for Cainer’s old job at the Daily Mirror). I ended the conversation by saying, “Well, with Europe, once you’re there you’re there,” and she smiled and repeated that back to me; I never came back to Seattle. I lived in Europe nearly four years. Note, I cannot find her name to thank her.

    Next: one of my clients is a psychologist. During a “marketing” episode with one of our lists, I got some incredibly mean, condescending, infuriating responses from “spiritual” readers of Planet Waves. I knew I needed the help of a professional psych so I asked her if she would help. She said, send me the stuff, I’ll look it over. Sarah in my office culled all the replies, bound them up and we sent them to her. She scheduled the call for the next day, and a minute before I called I got a Big Clue — the people writing were insisting that they were better than me.

    I got my psych client on the phone and said, I got a big clue but I want to listen first. What’s with these people? What is their issue? She said: nost of them have two things in common: paranoid projectors; and deep narcissistic wounding.

    In the space of ONE minute, I was free. I was free of the influence every asshole who writes to me and tells me my writing is great but they don’t want to pay $1.69 a week for it. The people who obsess over my words and they complain, or haggle over $1 a month. The ones who say your astrology is great but your pictures/other writing, etc. reveal you as [whatever].

    She explained: you feel pain when these people write to you BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO DO TO YOU.

    Holy living fuck.

    The rest, she said, want to be wooed and seduced. They need attention, so give them attention. A bunch of the rest are married to poverty and don’t think they can afford two bucks for something they love — forget it. And don’t worry, Planet Waves will reach critical mass and the money will come. Which it mysteriously started doing after that conversation.

    To my psych client/friend (who has paid me for a good few sessions to hear my theories about psychology) — I love you. Thank you so much.

    I have another amazing psychologist friend who has been nothing but kind, helpful and nourishing, another very smart woman, who among other things got me into the American Psychological Assn a year ago as a seminar presenter. I know some great psychologists. I have reverence for the power and beauty of this art — when it’s in the right hands.

  34. My experience with therapists has been fleeting and rather bumpy. As a teenager, the first one was also a friend of my parents, so the ability to actually heal anything was severly limited in scope. Visited with a pro in grad school and all she did was perscribe antidepressants and tell me to get a boyfriend. In later years my son and went for counseling at the county services when he was a teenager; I got a few sessions for myself and got validation for the first time that much of society was severely dysfunctional and no, my perceptions about seeming to live in stage sets of a Fellini movie were not far off base, however it is much easier to swim with fishes than resist the tide.

    I then started a habit which persists unto today, of reading works by prominent analysts and social philosophers (bless Friends of Jung and Erich Fromm), which has helped a great deal. One session with a therapist in Telluride was sufficient to explain what was up with my mother, leading to a great breakthrough in disarming some chronic rage. The last sessions occurred when I was was wondering about what to do next for a career. This one was recommended by my new husband; unfortunately I transferred guilt and a negative father complex onto the therapist and he obliged. Actually, the best therapy I have had to date has come from discussions with carefully picked friends, psychic readers, channelers and other astrologers.

  35. E

    I have had the “worst” therapists. They have all basically
    communicated to me what’s important to Them. My last therapist ( the
    smartest) who I found from reading Elle Magazine was so blunt I could
    never digest her input in a useful way and when I came to it on my
    own, always months/years later, I would remember her insight and think
    O well. I dont think I can hear something until I am ready and have
    lived out the process of realizing “why” on my own. I now just use my
    friends, my kid, and really about anyone I can get my hands on to
    counsel me when I need it. I also have learned finally to meditate and
    eastern thinking has been huge.

    xo J

  36. Hi Eric Francis,

    In answer to your question on Planet Waves of 20th July last “A question for those in therapy, and grads” I can give you this experience.

    Terminology
    I don’t use the terminology “therapy”. I call it help, guidance, a mentor, by someone who has no personal benefit by assisting me. It can be someone whom I pay a fee, or for free. But always by someone I don’t know. I don’t work with psychologists; I prefer reliable unconventional helpers in the complementary (not “alternative”) medicine.

    – How I found out about my mentor,
    – How did I choose my mentor,
    – How long was it before I figured out my mentor was the right person for me,

    – How does it feel to work with my mentor,
    – In what form do I feel that progress comes,
    – How long have I been working with my mentor?

    1.
    It was a secret thing I did not want to share and I wanted to get rid of the baggage; I had to find the person by myself with no references from people I knew.
    I search on the internet on the subject. A site got my liking because of the choice of words, her face (with sun glasses), the content of the information. I found out her secret professional telephone number and within two days I sat in her home-office. I was an exception and I was to be her last client. Four months later she was dead.

    I knew instantly she was right for me by the form of her web site. Her intelligent and sensing tone of voice matched my intuition. She was the first person in my life I sought for help as a “helper”. Had she said no, I could not have looked for another person. That angel changed my life in two hours.

    2.
    Another form of help came my way out of the blue.
    There was an author and I liked his book very much. His book title was given to me by a helper. Without any expectation I wrote him how much his book had helped me. He gave me the name of a friend who could help me further without asking a fee. My intuition told me I could trust the author completely, but I was not certain about his contact. Anyway, it took me a week to make the decision to meet this man, flew to another country and I got valuable insights during the day that changed my life for the better.
    I died a thousand deaths.

    3.
    Another grace. My doctor is also a nature-doctor but he is not a born doctor, you know what I mean Eric. The doctor I had as an infant was and is a born doctor, but I had not seen him since professionally, nor has he been my doctor since. I telephoned him, he had just closed his practice at the age of 82. He gave me the name of a therapist woman.
    Against my intuition – I did not like her voice on the phone – I met her. It was not good, end of contact by me. Immediately.
    Some months later I called my former doctor again, got his answering message in which he said the name of his successor. I sensed the rescue to my need and contacted him. On hearing his voice I knew instantly that he was to be the right helper for me. He is a born helper of man. His voice alone is healing to me. I see him every three months. I know him two years.

    It is cosmic grace bestowed on me that he came into my life. He has insights, professional knowledge, life experience, high intelligence in various forms, patience, he is an orthomolecular doctor and I benefit in that field from him too.
    But most of all my progress in talking to this man, comes from the fact that he knows and senses what’s inside of me, where it derives from. That gives me insights and enables me to work from there. It feels wonderful to know he is there for me. The progress is also in that I have learned to speak what I could not express. He has advised me to seek help on a more frequent basis. See number 4!

    4.
    The orthomolecular doctor provided me – in one year – with three names of women in the professional complementary medicine. And all three I met. Once. They were not right for me. It got embarrassing to turn down his kind suggestions. I got desperate, and then I found her.

    Her father checked my sowing machine and my lock-machine. My once sowing teacher suggested to let my machine checked every so often. She said his name. Six months later I did so. My mother was his client in his late shop, so I met him from the age of six?! I asked him one personal question (I never/hardly do with pro’s) about a photo of an airplane in his studio which caught my eye. That let to his telling about his daughter having a Reiki, Aura and Chakra healing, Crystal therapy practice.
    A month later I was initiated into Reiki 1. Why? I don’t know. Two days later I had the idea that she could be the helper I was seeking so desperately.

    I knew she would be the right helper for me from the moment I heard her voice on the telephone when I called for an appointment. I chose her by the way she made me laugh.

    She is wonderful for me. She fits me like a glove. And she is no hoaxer. And no yes-sayer.
    There is progress since I see her from January 2010 onwards. I have been talking mostly in these sessions and when there is still time I benefit from her energetic healing. To be able to express what’s inside of me is the biggest progress. And to receive her insights on my inner process. To have someone to whom I can say anything to is the biggest gift of all. Our working together is joyful and makes my life a whole bit lighter.

    5.
    And then there is my soul brother I am crazy about. We connect amazingly. We are semi helpers to each other I think on the spiritual path.
    He is 15 years younger and I consider him my masculine equivalent of Beatrice Portinari. I don’t think our relationship will be anything more than platonic. Have I again run into a charmer? And why?

    With warmth,

    Carla

  37. Hi Eric,

    Love the Therapy questions.

    Although I am not currently in therapy, I wish that I was. Due to insurance and cost I had to quit seeing my therapist. About 15 years ago I saw a therapist, and it was good, felt a decent connection, and made a little bit of headway – but the therapist was soon finished with her internship and so it ended. I got a replacement – but there was absolutely nothing there. I really felt that this new therapist just didn’t get me at all. I tried a few sessions, but just like trying to date, “it” wasn’t there and I stopped going.

    In 2006 I wanted to try it again. This time, with insurance, I was assigned a therapist. It was good, she was good, I felt it during the first session – even though I still felt a little “hesitant” – I was ready to “work” – I’d had enough of all the pain in my life and I felt that she “got me” – she really did and we had some good laughs. I realized how lucky I was to be able to see her. I was having an extremely difficult time in my life and I sobbed through the first session – and it was OKAY.

    It was talk therapy. I have endometriosis and she was very familiar with that disease – and I felt validation from that. She understood just how hard that could be to deal with. I explained my family dynamics and she understood – and again I received validation. I usually saw her once a week or every two weeks, and I really looked forward to those sessions. It was funny, at one point I remember having a session where I caught myself thinking, “I don’t think I have anything to say, I think I’m good now,” and then about a week later the floor dropped out (“Cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door”.) … a repressed memory came to the surface … I had been raped when I was a junior in high school. It was absolute kismet that I had been seeing this therapist when this all came flooding back. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been seeing her. It was vital that I received the help and validation and guidance from her that I did at that time. Talk about progress – that was it. Just like the donkey in Shrek talking about the layers of the onion – part of the alchemy of what had been going on through the previous months of therapy was the peeling back of layers. Although the full realization of the rape happened outside of a therapy session, (helping to be pushed to the surface in part because I was being stalked at the time) – I honestly don’t think that it would have fully surfaced, nor would I had been able to deal with it – if I had not been in therapy at that time, and had built a bond and shared my history with her. I think enough of the other stuff had been talked about to get my psyche to a point where it felt that it could deal with the rape. (Also, Dr. Christiane Northrup has said that when women reach the age of 40, the psyche does seem to be able to let past traumuas come up to the surface more easily because we are supposedly more equipped to deal with it.)

    There is something about seeing a therapist that you like … where you know you have a place to go and can be heard – that I think consciously/subconsciously makes you feel that you’re “safe” – to some extent, anyway. It is work, for sure, but when it feels like the other person is also interested in working through it and truly listens to you, well, some of us have never had that in any other aspect of our lives – so it definitely helps to open the flood gates.

    Due to insurance, money, etc., I am no longer able to see my therapist. I think of her often and wish that I could sit down with her again. I did get to see her like, once or twice, after my Mom died very suddenly and unexpectedly (May 2008) – but the insurance billing and company were so screwy that I couldn’t continue the sessions – it just became too much of a hassle and headache. Too bad. There is so much to talk about!

    So, I saw this therapist steadily for about 7-8 months. I miss this therapist dearly. I definitely made progress … I had finally found someone that understood me and what I was going through, and who really helped me to understand me, and gave me validation – something that had been sorely missing from my life for 40 years. She and I had a good laugh over the fact that, as she said, “Its funny, the introspective ones are interested in getting therapy, the non-introspective/bully-type people are always the ones who scoff at therapy.”

    I hope that this email will be helpful to you in some way.

    My best to you always (- I love your daily words and insights),

    S

  38. I think that a good therapist is sensitive to whether a person’s belief system works for them. Hence, they don’t need to be spiritual but rather open minded, educated, eclectic. Joe, who I worked with for many years, is not an especially spiritual guy. He is practical and creative. He can work within a person’s beliefs while being aware of how those beliefs affect the client. He is fully aware of the depth of the universe, and the extent of the unknown. This is a mix of intelligence and humility. Being a good therapist requires both.

    In my own astrology practice I can give you an example as well. How many times have you seem me write about space aliens? Probably never, or once. Sometimes I get a client who says they were abducted by the space brothers. Do I believe them? Well, why should I doubt them? I’ve never seen a UFO personally, though I have no reason to doubt their existence.

    So the first question I will ask is, “What did you learn?” or “What did they smell like?” I try to suss out what that symbol or experience means for the client, without denying the experience or discounting what the client learned. If the client is in doubt, that will come out soon enough. If they are using UFOs to mask something else, it won’t be long before that’s clear to both of us.

    But if the client says they were abducted and I say, oh, UFOs are bullshit and what would they want with you, I am a supreme asshole and not doing any service. And those purported UFO people may have some valuable information for the client and for me and for everyone.

    In this way, every spiritual tradition must be translated into something useful, its limits observed, its real role discerned.

    As for the ignorance of therapists about sex — it is stunning, and it’s fueled by the paranoia of the counseling room, where a psychotic person can get the psychologist’s license taken away. And there are plenty of them, dragging in bloody, infected sexual wounds that are soooo tempting to project.

  39. I’ve tried standard therapy and it always felt helpful, yet I never developed a relationship, or a regular pattern of seeing a therapist.

    That said, I do have a relationship with an energy worker (psychic) that meets my needs on deeper levels than standard therapy. My energy worker helps me move blocks and resistance, old energies that no longer serve me, break soul agreements that are not in my best interest, etc. I have been doing phone sessions for about 7 years on a as-needed basis. (I’ve got Venus, Mars, Saturn and Chiron in the 12th house).

    This year I have had a new health challenge and have connected with 2 more energy workers. All 3 have provided insights and awareness that truly heal my whole being.

  40. I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I talk about “spirituality” I mean to say that I want a therapist who acknowledges that as part of who I am, who speaks a language that includes words like “compassion” and “impermanence” as part of work toward healing and forgiveness, not that I require some restrictive sense of “higher” and “lower” categorization of parts of myself. So yeah, that common language is important to me, but if it’s not important to you, don’t seek it out. There are probably plenty of excellent Spanish speaking therapists, too, but we don’t speak the same language so the process becomes unnecessarily difficult. Sure, I might learn the language as I go along, but it’s not – for my needs – the most therapeutically productive environment.

    As for sex, I’m surprised to hear that there are therapists for whom that topic is off-limits, so I take it for granted. Maybe I’ve been lucky…

    Interesting to see so many points in common, though.

  41. “But I think the crux of this insistence on ‘spirit’ is that it can serve as a fabulous defence that prevents people from getting involved with their deepest, most frightening emotions. Sure, there might be a higher power out there, and, yes it is wonderful when you feel and experience it. But that often comes at the expense of dealing with the shit that lies beneath the surface.”

    Sarah — very astute observation. Thanks for having the guts to say that, and it does take guts.

    I would add: the ‘higher power’ is not higher. It’s directly within our psyche; it is us, and it’s got nothing to do with an -ism or -ality. This is the natural intelligence we possess that does not demand worship or ‘honoring’ but rather wants to explore, play and exchange experiences with us.

    The work that is done in therapy is also not just about shit. It’s about going for the good stuff, like erotic passion and artistic pleasure, which are things we’re often ashamed of. (How many artists do you know who have that tinge of embarrassment when they say they’re an artist; have you ever witnessed or felt that moment of bravado, ta-daa, I am an artist?)

    The concept of ‘spirit’ can be a cover for shadow material, and for sex, and for creativity and choosing the life we want. It is in a sense an attempt to sanitize shame without going to the root and seeing that there is no basis for shame (just an old legend, printed up and put in every hotel room, that says that we’re supposed to be ashamed of what we feel.) The process of going to the root is where we address the pain, the fear, the guilt, the sense of abandonment — on the way to what these things conceal. But we don’t need to throw the mantle of spirituality, piety, purity, integrity, etc. over that, which is often what spirituality does. If you find yourself buying all kinds of spiritual books and obsessing over this or that method of healing, ask yourself: are you horny? Do you really want a deep orgasm and the freedom to feel good about it?

    Often therapy itself can be taking the long way to the core, and the reason for that is that so few therapists are comfortable with sexual subject matter, many have not taken the dare to be an artist and explore that journey, many are in ‘conventional’ and seemingly stable relationships and have not turned that on its ass and seen what’s underneath.

    The thing about ‘spirituality’ is that it’s a kind of fictional story we make up. If I walk down the street and see or meet a gorgeous woman and want to smell her pussy, that’s visceral, direct, immediate, present and fun. Yet think of the conflict that is engendered as we all, to some degree, and many to a literally sickening degree, hold down those thoughts and feelings, then go into conflict, then seek therapy. And trust me plenty of therapy would question the appropriateness or the value of wanting to smell the pussy of a gorgeous/interesting woman (or whatever you personally want to do to, with or for whoever you happen to meet and be into), classifying it as childish, adolescent, yadda blah etc. When in fact it is the organic biological life impulse at play, doing its thing, celebrating the pleasure of physicality and freedom.

    And why would you feel guilty about that? This might be excellent terrain for therapy, except that to get there, your therapist has to be comfortable and grounded with the subject matter, and the feelings, and be with you on the value of biology is good, in order for you to feel comfortable going there.

    Sarah adds via email:

    “Religion is a defence against the experience of God.” (paraphrasing me paraphrasing Jung)

    — Yes, because *everything* is spiritual – and therefore the word ultimately becomes meaningless. Bringing the shadow to light (and, whoo boy, just how much of that has to do with our sexuality) brings us to unity, and there is no “spiritual shortcut” to that. Again, to quote Jung: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.”

  42. “Thus from the midst of all this neurosis, we need religion and “spirituality” to make peace with ourselves when what we really need is to have back the organic stuff that was taken.”

    Yes, I grabbed onto that at one time, too – was still looking for love in all the wrong places. What I am talking about has nothing to do with religion or spirituality. It is vibration.

  43. A bit of background: here in the UK, counsellors and psychotherapists (i.e. therapists) are not allowed to prescribe drugs. Psychiatrists are doctors who specialise in neurological medicine, and they rarely consult with patients outside a medication paradigm: they don’t offer therapy. So therapy in the UK offers much more of an alternative to the drug approach that seems to dominate in the States, and I’m happy that it works that way.

    I’ve been in therapy, on and off, since my early twenties; but I only feel like things have started to move the past two years, with my current therapist. In some respects the reason for this is that I hadn’t yet found the right therapist. For the most part, though, I just don’t think it was the right time. There is something to be said, I think, for being too young for therapy. Too much ego, too many defences that hold it in place. Not enough life experience to batter your ego to the point that you feel open enough to the possibility of having it dismantled.

    My current therapist practises Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, which is a form of depth therapy (going into the past and unconscious emotions) based on the work of, among others, Freud and Jung – though it isn’t as intensive as analysis, where patients often attend sessions three to five times a week. I see my therapist once a week, though I would have preferred twice if I could have managed it financially.

    Our relationship is hard to define. She is mother figure, mentor, guide, mirror. She is there so that I can see the very best in me – and the very worst. She is there to guide me to a place where I can release parts of my unconscious that have remained locked away from me, but it needs to happen at its own pace. There is no forcing. There is also no judgement, no advice, no reassurance. In her own words, she works intuitively, using the theory that she has, but in a way that is organic.

    My advice to those seeking therapy:

    Choose someone who is registered with a professional body, and who has solid qualifications, no matter which modality you choose. That’s a good start. Then let your intuition guide you in your first few sessions. You absolutely have the right to say that it isn’t going to work for you – as does your therapist.

    However, I would also say this:

    If you find yourself dismissing a prospective therapist or mode of therapy immediately, ask yourself as honestly as possible whether it is indeed because it isn’t going to work for you … or if actually it is because there something inside you that understands that it *is* going to work, and which doesn’t like that prospect one bit. Resistance is commonplace; and it shows up in many guises.

    Finally, and I think this is really important: I have read the responses here and people place a lot of importance on having a “spiritual” therapist. I did too, for a long time. It was one of the first things that came up in a session with a new therapist. However, I sincerely believe that the need to have a “spiritual” therapist is a red herring.

    There are many therapeutic approaches that deal with spirit without referring to themselves as spiritual. The search for meaning is, I would suggest, the search for soul.

    But I think the crux of this insistence on “spirit” is that it can serve as a fabulous defence that prevents people from getting involved with their deepest, most frightening emotions. Sure, there might be a higher power out there, and, yes it is wonderful when you feel and experience it. But that often comes at the expense of dealing with the shit that lies beneath the surface. This has happened to me, and I have seen it happening to so many people I know who actively consider themselves spiritual. So I think “spirituality” has a lot to answer for in this respect. Rather, as Eric says, concern yourself with whether your therapist is able to address sex and sexuality. If they can do that, then I think the spiritual bit happens by itself. I really do.

  44. ,,Let’s talk about drugs.. ..wait, here’s a definition: anything that alters your physiology, or mentality. Hmm.. food?!.

    ..Yeah, we’re about to hit ugly space.., or, the space where all the bullshit language collapses, and we either open our eyes, or shut the fuck up.

    ..If you are stunningly aware of all that you do.., great! If not.. well now,.. we’ve some conversation to be had, eh?!

    ..When you understand your God/Goddess-ness,.. smiles!,.. until,.. we’re Still chatting!

    (Vegan, that’s been one of my methodologies of mental/soul work).

    Peace and Love

    Jere

  45. In my view the drug issue is off the table. I think that drugs are necessary for certain types of psychosis and possibly severe type one bipolar. For depression, check some facts: drugs turn episodic depression into permanent depression; and rearranges brain chemistry so that recovery may be impossible. Libido can be compromised or eliminated. Weight gain, sometimes severe, happens with some types.

    When I say therapy I am not talking about being prescribed by a psychiatrist, which is a “substitute” for therapy. I am talking about the real thing.

  46. I’ve been waiting along time for that question.

    Yes, you’re hella lucky with Joe.. but that’s karma, welcome.

    I’ve used this space/site to train-wreck on.. this has been my therapy.

    Thank you, all in this community.

    ..I never meant to hurt anyone in any capacity.

    ..I can be brazen, and belligerent.. This is where I exist.

    I can also be kind and understanding.

    I hope I’ve showed the latter more prevalently.?!

    What I do know, is that I’ve spent some time contemplating my B.S.. (This is therapy). When I’ve spoken my mind, and it sounds like a child, grasping for sense,.. and I lash out in raging stupidity, I know I’m asking for help… a sense of what the Universe is, someone to say “I understand”. Even though I don’t need it.

    Self sufficiency is my goal.. yes, I know the conundrum that is placed in front..

    I just ask for all to live their lives accordingly, .. Squeegie the third eye!, and get on with it!!

    Lovingly, Jere

  47. “I am curious what it feels like to work with the person you’re working with, and in what form you feel that progress comes.”

    I will answer this with the transpersonal therapist in mind. Because transpersonal therapy is different, he would tell of his own journey and how he dealt with things; this helped me feel like he understood me better than a therapist who maintains that distance. It helped things feel more personal and it gave me a sense that if HE was working on himself and doing well then I could do the same.

    In all the therapies, progress came slowly and in increments. Many times I didn’t really make progress until more than a year after I had therapy.

  48. I have been in therapy four times. I was lucky all four times. The first was a man recommended to me by my mother because she was going to him (for all the wrong reasons) and he was willing to come out and tell me that of the three family members getting therapy with him (my mom and older brother and I) I was the one that he could tell truly wanted to help myself. I needed to hear that. The second was at an inpatient alcohol and drug center called Calvary Rehab. The combination of group therapy, individual counseling and lectures showed me where I came from, what my issues were and why, and gave me the tools to solve my problems myself. They also helped me understand why the 12 step program didn’t work for me because they explained the difference between transcendent deity and immanent diety (I felt the latter fit me better). The third was a nice older guy who helped me see why I had such trouble not believing in a deity I could call on for help. The last was totally different because he was a transpersonal therapist who used integrated breathwork to help me get through the huge changes becoming a parent did to me. He was wonderful for both my husband and I and amazingly insightful.

    I happened upon them all by circumstance and got lucky four times but my favorite two were the rehab center because they didn’t mess around but got straight to the point and the transpersonal psychologist because he integrated mind and body together (Google Eupsychia or Transpersonal psychology) which helped me because I am not just a cerebral kind of person; I am also very physical. Transpersonal psychology is a lot more emotionally integrated and seems more like a conversation and uses techniques such as integrated breathwork, drumming circles, sweat lodges, trust walks, and dance/movement. They also call it psychospiritual integration. http://www.eupsychia.com/whateup.html

    I don’t know if that helps or not.

  49. GrafGram:

    One of the things I did ask my therapist before we began was whether or not she would prescribe. She said that is a case-by-case scenario and that she would bring in a specialist for that type of treatment, and only if I needed it and my level of symptom warranted it.

    Being a firm no-pharma type, and that includes no pharma for physical ailments and certainly no anti-depressants, even in the depth of my depression, I told my therapist straight off I did not want drugs. Maybe it was because after watching my mother worsen with the number of strokes because of drugs used to treat her dementia, I did not want to travel that road. Is drug prescription a matter of personal choice between patient and therapist?

    I put that question to the floor.

  50. Drugs.

    It seems to me, from a distance, that many therapists — perhaps most — are very happy to treat people by giving them drugs. They seem to be very happy to give people powerful, addictive drugs, in fact, that can ruin their health in the long run.

    I had a good friend who really needed therapy, and she was treated by two or three of them over a period of more than ten years. And all during that time she was prescribed anti-depressants. The scripts changed over the years to provide her with ever more-powerful and ever more-addictive meds.

    These drugs really messed her up. She gained a tremendous amount of weight — became nearly obese — but worse, really, the drugs robbed her of her ability to empathize with others.

    I suppose they reduced the emotional pain that she felt for herself — I gather that was the intent – -but they also reduced her ability to put herself in anyone else’s shoes.

    Because of this she became very difficult to be around — she had no ability to understand how other people felt in even mundane situations. I had to give up my friendship with her in the end, which was painful.

    It always seemed to me that her therapists were negligent, although of course they were highly respected people with lots of credentials and many patients who praised them.

    I am dubious of any profession where one of the primary procedures is to throw drugs at people. I’m sure there are therapists who do not abuse this privilege but on the face of it, there appear to be a great many therapists who do abuse it.

  51. I have mixed feelings about therapy, Angie. I wish there were more good practitioners; I wish there were not so many who go into the work because they were abused and then don’t resolve it; and I wish we understood how and why it works, which to me is about cultivating trust in one relationship over the long run that is then applied to other relationships. I have had healthy and unhealthy relationships with therapists (the unhealthy one was with a therapy community that is, I believe pretty solid but it was a bad moment). So I know how much damage can happen, and I know how little work can get done.

    My main objection is that modern therapists have little to no understanding of sex, they don’t emphasize it and most clients would be terrified to reveal significant sexual secrets to their therapist and therefore cannot work on this core level of self-understanding in therapy — and I do believe it’s most of why people come in. If you you go back to the Book of Genesis, sex is taken away, shame is installed, God takes over and knowledge is made taboo. God is jealous.

    Thus from the midst of all this neurosis, we need religion and “spirituality” to make peace with ourselves when what we really need is to have back the organic stuff that was taken. And for this we go to therapy. We go to therapy to learn that we are human, and to develop our humanity. We go to therapy, I believe, because our trust has been severely injured and it’s a sanctuary where we can learn to rebuild, or build for the first time, that trust. When it works; when the practitioner is not ashamed of themselves in any way and can provide that as an basis of reality for the client.

  52. My father attempted suicide and was in a mental institution when I was 16. My sister had a “nervous breakdown” several years after that. They both received therapy, but nothing seemed to change for them on any deep level.

    When I was in my 20s I worked in a mental health center. What I noticed about the professionals there was that most of them were not applying their knowledge to themselves.

    Since my mid-20s, I have been on a path of self-knowledge and self-love.

    At the age of 50something, I decided to try therapy for myself, but did not connect with the therapist and did not pursue it further.

    Five years ago, I discovered an ancient Japanese healing art. I feel about this art the way Eric feels about therapy. It is the most powerful thing I have found. Complicatedly simple.

    I remain open.

  53. 1) I recommend you meet the proposed counselor, by phone or in person. You will get a sense of who he/she is by personality, even on the telephone. Do not expect a full consultation, but maybe 15 or 20 minutes–enough to sense your inclination toward like/dislike. You probably already know if gender is an issue, so use that intuition and pursue a therapist who matches your choice.

    2) It is well known among therapists that if the client and therapist share similar belief systems the therapy has a higher probability of creating a healing atmosphere.

    3) As others have mentioned, if you have a specific interest in a particular type of therapy, such as Jungian analysis, cognitive behavioral techniques, or another one of many, you certainly should ask if this therapist has strong familiarity with your interest.

    4) Ask the therapist how actively involved he/she is in the work. How directive or passive is this person? Does that match your comfort level?

    5) In what types of client problems is this therapist experienced? You need to know how deep you want to reach. Is it your sense that this therapist can go that far? It is said and I regard it as true, that a therapist cannot help a client beyond the level that he/she has gone herself.

    5) Ask about tools the therapist might use. Are you a strong dreamer? Does the therapist consider dreams as informative? Do you have a special interest in hypnosis? Is it important that the therapist has at least a working knowledge of astrology? Is he/she guided by personality tests? Is symbolism an important tool for you? Then certainly you want a therapist who can move around in this realm.

    6) Certainly it is important whether the therapist has done his/her own psychological work. Is this person willing to reveal the extent of this work to you? The content is not necessary to know, but whether it is important in his life. (Most counseling types have had several years of personal therapy and return at times of stress for more.)

  54. I’ve been with my therapist for, gosh, 4 years now? Here’s what I know:

    1) Interview your therapist for the job. Know what you want and be willing to walk away if that person isn’t it. It’s okay, it’s just business. I wanted a therapist who addressed the spiritual aspect of life. The one before this one didn’t, so I gathered up my anxiety the best I could and told her it wasn’t going to work. She didn’t take it personally, why should she? But boy, I sure did feel guilty! A friend who knew what I meant about needing an element of spirituality pointed me to Steve, and I knew by the end of the first session that he was the one. I NEVER imagined I’d be okay seeing a male therapist, but good is good. If you know someone who has gotten somewhere with themselves, don’t be afraid to see their therapist. References are best!

    2) See someone who has done – and is in an ongoing process of – doing the work themselves. You get the benefit of their experience, and a therapist is a teacher more than anything, but more to the point, plenty of people go into this business to avoid their own shit, and somehow believe that helping you do your work is the same thing as doing their own. Then as soon as your really vulnerable stuff comes up and you get angry at your therapist for the first time (because if they’re doing it right, you will), or do one of those other crazy unconscious things you do because you’re emotionally in over your head, if they’re not grounded in their own healing process, they’re gonna go all unconscious/ego on you and you’re not going to get to use that moment to move forward. It sucks. I once had a therapist fire me because she wrote down my appointment wrong in her book and I came when the card said to and she accused me of playing games with her. Nicest thing she coulda done, really, but I was pretty devastated at the time. Therapy is full of projections, make sure your therapist knows how to withdraw theirs. A therapist who can’t be patient and compassionate when you’re vulnerable doesn’t deserve your business.

    3) What tools does that therapist use? Do they still take opportunities to learn new theories and practices? How passionate about their work are they? If they light up telling you about it, that’s a great sign. The more tools they use, the better. The fewer they use the more likely they are to try to fit you into their therapeutic model rather than trying to model their therapy around you. What are their favorite books? What do they like about them? They should have a bookshelf – ask them to show you and talk to you about it (see above re: lighting up). In my experience, the most useful tool in my own therapist’s box is the Internal Family Systems model. However, he doesn’t just use that in it’s pure form, he weaves in all kinda other stuff from Buddhism to Focusing to Recovery, Inc. that makes it better and uniquely him and seriously I would freaking clone him and share him with the world if I could.

    4) Get someone who is willing to call you on your shit when you’re hiding. Which means you have to be willing to be called. Which is not fun (see #2). But if you’re not willing to sit with that moment of shame when the part of you that is avoiding healing gets discovered, take a deep breath and plow bravely forward, the best therapist in the world can’t help you. Because in the end, the punchline is true: the lightbulb has to really want to change.

    5) this one’s not about the therapist: know what your goals are. Be willing to keep doing the work the rest of the week. Because therapy isn’t about showing up to bitch for an hour, or about encapsulating all of your pain in a one hour session and being okay for the rest of the time (yep, I did that). You wouldn’t do it if you were taking piano lessons, and you shouldn’t do it when you’re taking healing lessons. This is about getting the tools to make a permanent change to how you interface with the world, all the time, even when you’re pissed, even when you’re hurt, even when you don’t want to. The more you’re willing to practice that, the faster it goes, and the more you benefit from life.

    ” I am curious what it feels like to work with the person you’re working with, and in what form you feel that progress comes.”

    It feels like going to a friend/guru/priest/doctor/partner and opening up my calcified painful places for examination. We laugh at my ego’s antics a lot, I cry a lot, he explains a lot, I dig in and try again. Progress comes as I am more capable of staying in self (see Internal Family Systems) and speaking for the parts of me that are freaking out, rather than from them. Sometimes it will seem like very little happened in a session, but then I’ll go out and something triggering will happen and I deal with it with a little more grace and humor and a little less fear and overwhelm, and just like that I take a little step forward.

    Okay, I’ve successfully avoided doing schoolwork for an hour writing this. Enough for now. 🙂 Eric, if you have any questions, you always know how to reach me.

  55. Dear Eric,

    I hope this reply finds you in good spirits. I agree with you that an article on “choosing a therapist” would be helpful to Planet Waves subscribers. My own thoughts run something like this:

    A person who knows something about psychology might have a preference for a particular type of therapy (that is, archetypal, cognitive, humanistic, transpersonal, integral, and so forth). If so, he or she can look for organizations and associations with lists of members who have specialized in one of those areas. Although this doesn’t guarantee a perfect fit, it is a good place to start. Of course word of mouth is great too, but sometimes people don’t want to ask anyone… especially their friends and family. If a person doesn’t know much about the different “schools” of psychology, I suggest they do a little bit of research. This can be as simple as reading a few wikipedia entries, or as complex as reading an introductory textbook on theories of personality! Humanistic therapists hold the central tenet that there must be resonance between the therapist and client if therapy is to take place at all. A good humanistic psychologist will offer a free consult so the “client” and the “therapist” can meet and determine their affinity for relationship with one another. Many studies have shown that progress only happens when such an affinity exists!

    My own bias is that of an Integral approach (Integral psychology – based on the work of Ken Wilber); all of us have so many levels and lines of development in so many spheres of life that I believe it is helpful for a client “see” the areas where he has stronger vs. weaker development. In that way, a client is not focusing all his or her energy on “what’s wrong” but also on “what’s right”… this is a more balanced and realistic approach. Specifically I work with clients through helping them develop core qualities and character strengths such as courage, discipline, initiative, persistence, enthusiasm, and so forth, because I have found that they are important at all levels and development lines.

    Anyway, I would be happy to dialogue with you about this if you have any questions regarding my comments…

  56. I had an experience of psychotherapy in my 20s with a woman who had some kind of social work credentials, I don’t recall exactly what. It left me jaded. Not a far step from my feelings about the practice to begin with. I spent a lot of money over the course of a few years and got nothing in return. Most of the sessions occurred in silence, she seated across from me, looking at me, sighing, and occasionally asking “how are you feeling right now”. It made me very uncomfortable. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready… Maybe it was just not the right method..

    Forward 20 years later. I was deeply unhappy with my career, feeling stuck and unsatisfied, burdened to provide financially for myself and my husband. I had been plagued by physical dis-ease for years. So, I picked up a local directory of alternative healers and flipped through it, reading the bios, visiting the websites, considering the different therapies and just getting a “feel” for the healers. There was one woman to whom I kept returning, an intuitive health practitioner and reiki master who uses a variety of modalities (sound and essential oil, akashic record readings). I had one session and reading with Kim concerning my fibromyalgia. I loved her approach, but I never went back.

    Two years later, spurred on to crisis by events in my life, I was desperate for someone to understand my complex thoughts and emotions. I knew I didn’t want a traditional, academically trained, credentialed therapist. Honestly, I am just really not open to psychotherapy. My sense is that it is just theories that attempt to categorize and analyze what I like to think of as my own unique experience. Psychotherapy just isn’t something I am attracted to as a means for healing. With such a negative perception, I suspect I would draw just that kind of thing to me which I expect! But, as I said, I was desperate. I paced up and down the streets chain smoking and brainstorming… family couldn’t understand, I had no friends…my husband (and best friend) was part of the problem… I cant do this anymore myself… I must find…AH! Kim! Of course! Of course!

    So, I sent her an email and she responded immediately by generally addressing my issues and describing her services. I called her on the phone. We talked for about 45 minutes – no charge. Her voice was warm and familiar. She addressed my concerns. I felt comfortable talking honestly with her. It was effortless. She felt neither imposing, nor flakey. I didn’t get the sense that she was just in it for the money or to observe as a clinical trial. She had a great sense of humor and solidity that earned my trust immediately. When she responded to me it was as if I was hearing myself affirming myself – but in a strong and healthy way. When she was off base, I could tell her honestly, yet I was open to receiving everything she had to say. I received a series “Aha!” revelations with her. When I showed amazement at how “right on” she was, she always emphasized that she was only giving me back what I was telling her. And it was all positive!

    We worked a mentorship of 4 sessions about 3-4 hours each, supported by phone conversations during crises and many email conversations (she never charged me for the additional support). Her goal is to guide her clients into self-empowerment. Through my work with her I realized my great sensitivity. She gave me tools to protect myself and strengthen my intuition. She taught me that all I ever need is myself. (this one I’m constantly learning). My progress was fast. I had a few more sessions with her following the mentorship and attended several of her Reiki circles, which actually leaned more towards guided meditation. Sessions involved helping us to re-connecting to our true nature, experience male/female polarities as wholeness, and guidance into the Akashic records.

    I worked with her close to a year when we began to part ways. Our paths were diverging. Initially she encouraged and supported my passion for astrology, but then that began to change. There were a few instances where I felt my aspirations were belittled. I was somewhat pressured into doing a reading for her when I didn’t really feel ready. The relationship took on a different dynamic, a friction that felt somewhat competitive. That’s when I felt it was time to separate myself and my goals from those that perhaps she imagined for me. We are still in contact and communicate from time to time and I love her dearly. Even as I write this, I feel great abundance of love for her. (I think my sacred heart is glowing.)

    Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you. It was a very healing and awakening experience and offered me much food for thought.

  57. Greetings!

    I don’t have a whole lot to offer this discussion, but thought I’d put out what there is.

    My former wife was a mental health professional for our entire 16-year marriage, with more than 10 years as an accredited art therapist. For all that we had our differences, one thing I admired was her absolute commitment to her clients (she worked with kids). I’d say if you’re looking for a therapist, talk to current (and former) clients if you can find them, and get a feel for how dedicated the therapist was to their well-being.

    The only time I’ve been in therapy was marriage counseling with the aforementioned wife. I, at least, feel we got lucky there because we saw the ex-wife of one of her former colleagues; she’s the one who finally got me to muddle through my feelings and realize I wanted out of the marriage more than I wanted to stay in it. Of course, my positive opinion of the outcome wasn’t really shared by the other party….

    Don’t know if that helps! Hope you’re doing well!

    Eric Francis
    Independent Journalist & Grant Writer
    North Little Rock, Ark.

  58. Hi Planet Waves:

    I am not seeking therapy now, but I have sought and found it, and my results were successful.

    Earlier this decade, a few years before my mother died, but knowing her death was to come, I had to go to a therapist. I really needed grief counseling – to deal with the unexplored and unexpressed feelings I suppressed for years when my father died suddenly in our home while at the dinner table. I was 18.

    For me, there was the thing of being strong for everyone, and then being strong for yourself. The problem was, I didn’t know the difference. It was therein that pressure built to such an extent that by the time I turned 47, I was physically exhausted and willing myself to commit a passive form of suicide by getting ill enough to hover near death, but not quite, and not quite taking care of myself to get through it.

    My fractures to my inner foundations were starting to break fully, and heading straight towards crumbling. I was facing the onslaught of my mother’s decline and death. This brought me to the point of facing childhood’s end and the ghost of being a “faux-adult”, coping with the mechanisms only a child could have–learning from a model applied by circumstances that no young person should experience — losing one’s parent while still very young.

    I got a hold of Sue, a therapist who I heard about from another psychotherapist friend of mine, and I left a message on her voice mail. When she reached me, it was 10pm. From our conversation that night, she said it sounded like I was in a deep depression and we started scheduling sessions – twice a week until we got the hang of it. This lasted for about six months, and then things started to shift.

    I think this is where you and I started to pick up, Eric, and by that, meaning, I had more courage to explore what that journey was from a spiritual level, including contacting an astrologer with practical spiritual and psychological framework to provide good information. It felt like I had walked through the crucible, and needed to know how firm the new flesh was around the new foundation and patterns of thoughts and feelings that had emerged. By the time my Chiron return was exact, my therapy was focused less on healing old wounds and focused on attaining new goals.

    A little over a year that my mother passed, I ended therapy. It was by that time, I had found a home that I truly desired and deserved and started building a life by myself, for me. The splayed threads of my spirit were rejoined, and the springboard to myself less fragile, easier to feel, see, attain. It could not have happened without Sue, and most especially without me.

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