Demystifying Psychotherapy, Embracing Healing and Growth
This blog is the beginning of a series that address the many myths surrounding mental-emotional health and counseling. This series will also shed light on what can truly be accomplished in therapy and why so many people can benefit from this as thousands have already done so.
Though the stigma around mental health & counseling have gotten somewhat better, there still remains myths and inaccurate stereotypes around of what therapy is and who exactly needs or comes to therapy. This all leads to some having a sense of shame and/or inadequacy around asking for help regarding life and personal issues. This can be for anything that has to do to with one’s psychological and emotional life.
There are huge misunderstandings about what is being done in therapy and what can be accomplished. Here we will unravel some of these misunderstandings.
Most people don’t think twice about going to their doctor to get a yearly “physical” or when they are feeling physically ill or have suffered a physical injury. It would be senseless not to see the doctor. And yet, as we know from the *ACE study, so many physical ailments and disease have their root in the psychological and emotional, including psychological/emotional injury and stressors. The body-mind-emotion-spirit is so intricately connected that if we want to be healthy, all 4 of these need to be addressed. A mishap in one of these areas will affect or bleed into the rest.
The first myth is that only people who are weak or have no outside support are the ones who need and can benefit from therapy. There is a backwards belief many people carry; that whatever issue they have, they should be able to do it alone.
After practicing therapy for decades, I have seen great courage in people by their willingness and bravery to take on any issue and look right at it, face it and do what it takes to bring them into healing, wholeness, and a totally new way of life that rests on a foundation of inner peace and a deep sense of well-being.
Unfortunately, this “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality has caused unnecessary suffering and grief.
A couple things about this:
1) The true weakness is not facing the issue, ignoring it, stuffing it. If the issue is a negative event or experience; pretending like it never happened, like it’s not true or eventually, not remembering it at all. But the body always remembers. One cannot run from it, you could never outrun it and eventually, though subconsciously, it can run your life. I see it all the time.
2) In part, the reason for reaching out is that there are so many things that can gently help you heal or grow or transform, etc. that are not known to the vast majority of people. For example, with trauma and/or anxiety, we are mainly working with the nervous system here, not just talking “about” it but truly moving it out. There are numerous ways in which calm can come into the nervous system, which affects your emotions, your beliefs and your sense of self.
Let’s do an experiment here using *Convergence Therapy:
From a seated position, take one of your fingers or a pen and center it before your face at a distance of four to six inches. Gaze at the tip of your finger or pen. Then look straight through the finger/pen to the furthest place in the room (usually a far wall). Flow back and forth between the tip of the finger/pen and the far spot every 3 to 10 seconds. Repeat this for 20 to 60 seconds. You can slow this down if there is any experience of nausea or dizziness (and occasional side effect).
This should bring relief to any panic, anxiety or subsequent body sensations usually in the chest area. One of the things Convergence Therapy does is calming and/or slowing down the heart rate. Your eyes move from a restrictive tunnel vision, which occurs with panic or a fight/flight response, to opening the visual field. This opening of the visual field communicates the actual safety of the moment to the nervous system. This sense of safety and calm can come in within 1 minute. You can test this by checking your pulse right before you begin this process and then again right afterward.
Now, I bet you don’t have a friend or a co-worker who will suggest putting your finger in front of your face and switch between looking at your finger and beyond it 😊. You just wouldn’t know this quick and effective method can be used in times of anxiety and/or panic. How could you?
Many therapists who specialize in trauma, anxiety, and/or depression, know about the neurobiological and physiological aspects that are highly involved with these issues. They know how to treat this on all levels, and they know how to give you life-long skills and tools that can be very useful throughout life. In this way, they are showing you how to heal yourself, how to grow beyond where you are now and how you can begin living your best life.
Like the body, the mind is hardwired for healing. For the body, let’s take a broken bone for example. The bone will naturally heal itself; the body is wired to do that all on its own. But there are many things that can foster this healing – cast, reset. Sometimes surgery is needed. Rarely, if ever, we will hear someone say, “I can do this on my own. I don’t need a Dr; I can reset the bone myself.”
This is what I’m hearing from people on the “mind” side of things. Someone may experience a hurtful break up, a trauma or have just had more depressed or anxious days than not. Your mind is wired to heal. It is wired for coherence. But many times, we don’t know exactly what to do. Many times, talking and talking about it or continuing thinking about it, trying to sort it out doesn’t help. Also, there may be shame or embarrassment around something that is actually very normal. We just don’t know. It is here, that reaching out for help is something you can lovingly do for yourself. The mind can be reset with help, just like your body (broken bone).
Don’t cheat yourself. There are some very cool things that happen in therapy. Getting to really know who you are through self-exploration, finding a true direction for yourself, letting go of things that were never yours to begin with, and feeling more in harmony with life, with yourself and with those around you. It is always fascinating and such a gift watching people become more “themselves” and positively different once the baggage is dealt with and we can gently let go of all of it. Can you imagine who you are or will be once these burdens are dropped? Something truly beautiful, powerful, peaceful and forever resilient emerges and it’s just waiting there for all of us.
* Adverse Childhood Experiences
*Oculocardiac Convergence Therapy