Therapy and Change
Individual & Couples Psychotherapy
People come to me for individual psychotherapy and they also come to me with their partners for couples psychotherapy to work on their intimate relationships. The common thread in both situations is the importance of change. Paradoxically, change is often invisible to us, it is what we fear and can’t avoid, and it also what we desperately desire. Therapy can help by making the nature of change more visible, more understandable, more tolerable and more attainable. The close attention we will pay during therapy sessions makes this possible. It reveals our reluctance to change in detail and indicates directions that might be fruitful to create the changes we want.
… change is what we want, change is what we fear, change is what we can’t ever avoid, and change is what is often invisible to us. Therapy can help by making the nature of change more visible and more understandable.
The deep and rich experience I had working with people whose lives were shaken to the core by loss, has led me to see that our sense of loss is one of the main forces driving us towards change. Loss is not only the concern of people with life-threatening illness, problems of grief and bereavement, or the experience of trauma. It is central to everyone seeking to find meaning in their lives and searching for a way to deal with their suffering. The transitory nature of the things most dear to us is one of the central truths of life. Surprisingly, it can also be a source of strength and growth because that very transitoriness is the foundation of aliveness and fluidity.
All of us face times when the world feels utterly different from what we were sure it would be. Perhaps we have lost someone who seemed vitally important to us, someone who seemed like a fixed star in our firmament. We might have slowly realized that the life we chose for ourselves is not giving us what we had hoped for. Or we might have been the victim of a sudden, capricious, traumatic event that shattered all our beliefs and expectations.Perhaps we have finally confronted the inevitability of aging or death. Sometimes our inner strengths allow us to weather the impact of events like these, but sometimes we simply can’t recover our equilibrium, and we are buffeted by depression or anxiety. Some of us begin to adjust our whole mode of living to a painful sense that the world around us is alien, unpredictable and unfair.
Loss can be very solid and substantial: a husband, a wife, a parent, a child, a job, an ability, a home, our health. It can sometimes be harder to pin down: a failed plan, a forsaken dream, a fervent belief challenged beyond redemption. Before our loss, this jewel of ours was part of the world’s very structure. It inspired us and gave us energy and meaning. It was so central that perhaps we didn’t notice that it had become a linchpin of our entire world view. Without it, we begin to wonder if we have lost our very self.
Loss and change can also make us feel painfully alone. Psychotherapy can help us to understand the universality of impermanence. As our understanding of our personal losses becomes clearer, the very realization of that universality shatters the illusion of separateness and isolation. All of us, all beings, are joined together by our experience of change. We all live in the fresh, turbulent flow of life.
The haiku poet Issa (1763-1828) expresses this wisdom succinctly:
In the shade of cherry blossoms,
utter strangers –
there are none.
In Japanese culture the cherry blossom symbolizes both the impermanence at the heart of our life, and also life’s freshness and beauty.The fragility of the blossoms protects us by making our mutual vulnerability an unshakeable bond. The deep and intimate conversation between me and you that is at the heart of psychotherapy offers a path towards seeing clearly how loss, change, aliveness and growth are intertwined in a matrix of human interconnectedness. Contact me if you want to start on that path.