What is Happening to Therapy?


I have been trying, this past ten years or so, to do therapy without using any jargon. No words such as depression or bipolar,  nothing like inner child or soul or inner critic or sentences like, “You can be anything you like”,  or  ” Do whatever feels right for you.” To be frank, I disliked all of that anyway. It sounded like brainwashing combined with wishful thinking, and who knows, is any of that “true” at all?

So, I try to stick to ordinary verbs – doing words – and adjectives. If you push “Depression” out of the room, longing and sadness will usually take its place. Tell me about your longing and your grief. We can talk about that. And tell me about your loss of power too.

Yesterday I was at a creative workshop. A lovely older woman, a teacher of English, spoke about her agony when having to take big decisions as she does not trust herself, and she is sad about a life that is lacking in joy.  “It is because of the lack of love in your life”, a successful therapist replied. “Yes”, the teacher responded, agony on her face, “that is exactly what I don’t have.”

Here is my take on it: When you are a small child,  you will explore. You will do your best to discover things and to have joy.  You will only be stopped for three main reasons: 1) Absence of opportunity (a barren environment) 2) Rigid rules and boundaries (don’t make a mess, be clean, be tidy, be dutiful), and/or 3) Overprotection.

When you are an adult, you cannot wait for trust and love and joy to arrive before you begin to explore.  You cannot waste more time mourning for what you do and did not have. You may have to wait forever and then more if you want to have before you start living. You start off by risking, by taking chances, by taking a walk on the wild side. You will learn to trust and love and have joy once you are out there.

2 responses to “What is Happening to Therapy?”

  1. Your introductory paragraphs were quite “startling” to me – making me recognize things in myself – also – depression like the proverbial “black dog” always seems to be biting at our family heels ( even though some will not acknowledge it ) took myself off medication cold turkey about 16 months ago – interesting times


    1. Dear Joan Going cold turkey is quite something! How did it go? Would you mind describing your experience to us? I have had people landing up in therapy with me who had been crying for weeks and could not stop, and often this was as a result of going “cold turkey.” Yes, the black dog gets transferred from generation from generation…. We háve to find a creative and meaningful connection out there, and of course, to grieve our losses. But the latter needs a time limit. I always say, everything has a shelf life, and so should childhood grief. The mind is wonderful: If you give it a set date (e.g. by Christmas), and work towards that, then you should be able to translate your grief into something constructive by then. Lovely to hear from you.


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