In February I did some inner work on myself, which consisted of therapy (I visited a counselor a few times), and a 3.5 day retreat called the “Inner Journey Seminar”. I’ll describe the therapy below and the Inner Journey in a separate blog post (coming soon).
I’ve been considering therapy for many years, but never done it due to the cost, and because I was reluctant to admit that I might need it.
The main issue that I wanted to deal with during therapy was my difficulty in “being myself” around other people (I’ve since realized that I also have other issues to work on that may be more foundational). I wanted to be more natural and confident, rather than shy, inhibited, and shut down. I’ll refrain from elaborating on this issue here or the ways that it manifests itself because I’m afraid that I’ll be misunderstood, as I have been too often when I’ve tried to explain these things in real life.
What Happened at Therapy
I visited a counselor 3 times, for about an hour each time. I realize that 3 hours isn’t a lot of time, but I found that time useful. There a lot of talk about my childhood, since my counselor believes that all psychological issues have their roots in the past.
A benefit of discussing certain things with a therapist rather than other people, I discovered, was that she knew how to respond to me in a way that was both understanding and encouraged openness. Too often, when I’ve discussed my issues with other people, they can’t relate. They mean well, but respond in non-useful ways such as trying to convince me that I’m just fine (denying that there’s a problem isn’t an effective way to solve it), or by offering aggravatingly simplistic advice.
Although 3 sessions of therapy didn’t transform me, they did help me to start opening up, which I think is the first step to making change.
My only complaint is that a couple times my therapist gave me suggestions that I considered to be superficial bandaids that didn’t deal with the root problems. But this is a minor complaint since most of the time we were dealing with the real issues.
In addition to working on the “being myself” issue, at therapy I was also able to share what I considered to be my worst secrets at therapy. I told my counselor things that I’d never told anyone before this month – the things about myself that I most didn’t want anyone else to know. And I shared those things not only with my counselor that month, but also with two understanding friends.
I would have been content to let those sleeping dogs lie, but decided to share them with my two friends & counselor because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen on the upcoming Inner Journey Seminar (IJ), and I didn’t want to have to share them there for the first time. I had other things I wanted to focus on at IJ.
As it turned out, those issues didn’t come up at IJ, but I’m glad I shared them ahead of time anyway. Doing so was part of starting to open up, and my friends & counselor assured me that despite those secrets, they didn’t think differently about me – I was ok/normal and didn’t need to feel ashamed (I guess some of my friends are good therapists after all).
After the 3 sessions I did the Inner Journey Seminar at the end of the month (February) which was three and a half full days of inner work. I then decided to take a break from therapy, but very recently (June) decided to start again.
Something I never quite got a grasp of during February is how the therapeutic process works. We talk about my issues, explore their causes… and then what? What’s the process for actually resolving them? Now that I’m starting therapy again I hope to find the answer.
You can read about my experience at the Inner Journey Seminar here.