A Little About Therapy

Funny Business

Therapy is a funny business. Why in the world would anyone sit down with a complete stranger and tell them their life story? Why would someone share things with a therapist they wouldn't share with their closest friends or family?

Still, people do it. I've done it. And believe it or not -- it works.

After 25 years in the helping profession, I continue to be amazed by two things:

  1. the courage people show as they take giant risks to reveal who they are, and
  2. the capacity of the human heart to recover from the deepest hurts and make sense of the most profound pain

Whether you realize it or not you'll bring something essential with you to your very first therapy appointment -- the human instinct we all have that pushes us to grow. We have this in spite of our fear. Some part of us wants a richer and more meaningful life, even while we are afraid of what it can take to get us there. 

 

First sessions

I see this tension play out often at the start of my work with people. First sessions in therapy often unfold like this: 

Siting down carefully on the couch, you survey the new surroundings and look up cautiously.

Unsure about where to look exactly, you move your eyes from mine to the floor and back again as you think about where to start. You rehearsed this a few times at home but it feels different now -- a lot harder. 

Before any words come out, you're overcome with emotion. 

It's been a long time since you could just be yourself.

You've been holding it together forever; holding it together for your friends, for your co-workers, for your family, for your partner.  

Pretending has been exhausting. 

You feel relief as the powerful emotions you always knew were there begin to leak out, unexpectedly. This feels surprisingly good -- but it also feels scary and unfamiliar. 

The bigger part of you wants to be reached. Even though you've become an expert at hiding, there's a hope inside you that 'being found' just might be worth the risk.

Anytime we try something new it can feel scary and unfamiliar. Growth and fear always go together.

We stop growing, though, the moment we let our fear trick us into believing that this smaller, carefully hidden version of ourself is all there is.

 

become more of who you are, not less.

My greatest wish for you in therapy is that you become more of who you are, not less.

I believe that much of the pain you feel -- your anxiety, depression, loneliness, or anger is a signal that you aren't living the kind of life you want to be living. 

Our attempts to manage that pain lead to avoidance strategies like hiding and pretending. The hiding and pretending keep us further away from a fuller life. This leads to more pain and then more avoidance strategies. 

We get stuck in a cycle that limits us and makes us unhappy.

What if turning toward the pain was a way to get out of this cycle? What if a more authentic you was behind the hurt?

We do this in therapy by: 

  • noticing what we are experiencing instead of avoiding it
  • turning toward and understanding the undesirable parts of ourself we used to run away from
  • tending to these parts with acceptance and compassion 
  • learning more about what we value, desire, and wish for 
  • taking the action needed to move us toward what we really want in life 

With understanding, courage, and a hopeful invitation we can be who we are and step out into the light of day. 


How can I help? Schedule your first session or set up a free phone consultation.

Call 425.451.1620 or email joe@joebutlertherapy.com