Does anyone really know how to explain what therapy is? I remember feeling vaguely confused when I reached the end of grad school and still had no clear definition of what it was I just got a degree in. I have tried to come up with a succinct explanation of what I do... however being succinct is not my strong suit. Whenever I try, I see people's eyes glaze over accompanied with vague nods that clearly show me the person has no clue what I'm talking about. My brother-in-law tends to be the king of using big words to describe his job in communications sales (at least I think that's what he does?) that ultimately results in people still having no clue what he does but are super impressed with whatever it is. I have yet to master that talent, but find it a goal of mine to really make what I do clear. "Therapy" is one of those funny vague terms used to describe a complex process that is ever changing. So what better topic for a blog?!
This week I had two separate clients end session by saying "I wish I could bottle up the feeling I have when I am here so I can carry it with me all week. Why don't I feel this good at home?” Of course there is no one reason why people lack comfort and happiness in their lives, but what is it about the therapeutic process that feels so good? What are we truly doing in that 45 minute session that improves our moods and decreases stress (among many other things)? It seems to be a common theme lately where I am encouraging client's to notice, observe and connect with positive energy. I ask them to explore what makes them feel good, what brings them joy, and how they can connect with that on a regular basis. Sometimes it's trying new things, or connecting with old friends or loved ones. But no matter what the task, there always involves some sort of energy exchange that helps to lift spirits and create joy.
Therapy is an exchange of energy. Therapy is more than a set of skills and theories that are applied to a problem to miraculously solve it. When I sit with a client, I connect to their energy. I feel what they feel, and take that on. This is a career path where us empaths often excel, but can burn out very quickly in. I often still struggle with being able to separate from that pain, and isolate myself once home for need of clearing all the 'stuff' I have collected throughout my day. It took a long time for my husband to understand how I could be so physically and mentally exhausted doing a job where I sat and listened for a majority of my time. (This is a personal growth point for me!) But I am also giving energy. I am working damn hard in session when I am with a client. When I am having an off day emotionally, or my resources are depleted due to lack of self-care, my sessions suffer and my client's feel it.
When I am in session, I am opening myself emotionally and energetically to share peace and comfort with my clients. There have been times where I visually imagine opening the white light bubble around me (aka my aura or energy field) expanding to encircle my client. I visualize this bubble usually as a way to protect my own energy in the morning, set through intention during my quick meditation. I am inviting them into a physical and energetic space where they can experience unconditional support and care that often is not found at home. And it's always such a validation when at the end of session, a client looks at me and says "I know we only chatted the whole time, but I just feel better". Verbally processing our issues can help us on numerous levels. But if it was just about 'talking it out', why doesn't talking to a wall have the same effect?
We all have a connection to the larger energy of the universe. Global consciousness is a concept that is rapidly gaining popularity and scientific backing, and younger generations are feeling the intuitive call to act upon these ideas. And while we can't yet fully explain it, touch it or put a value on it, what we do know is how we feel when we experience it. We relish in the joy of being in our flow. We find warmth in being recognized and acknowledged by another soul. Validation of our existence and our importance to others brings us fulfillment. And if these concepts are a little too heady for you, what about those fantastic work outs when you leave the gym feeling as if you were on a high? Or when you just closed a huge deal at work in a meeting full of big wigs? Or when you stay up all night talking to the love of your life and don’t feel the least bit tired the next day? This is all energy!
So yes, I do teach skills. I help kids. I work with families. I provide parenting tips. I listen. I problem solve. I challenge. I facilitate growth. I set boundaries. I teach. I coach. I support grieving. I play games. I implement interventions. But I also give energy. I give of myself and open myself to others. I will change to happen. I cheer for growth. I ache for losses. I hold hurt. I am vulnerable. I hope for happiness. I am present. I feel.
And that my friends, is what I do. That is therapy.