Over the summer I have been pursuing all sorts of creative endeavors. Painting, music, videography, anything and everything that piques my interest. To me having a creative outlet is a key ingredient to self-care. And as a therapist, I am always seeking to add to my self-care repertoire.
These creative endeavors lead me to the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I have not been able to put this book down! The concept is that art is a part of our souls and often a higher calling but it is commonly met with different forms of resistance. From alcohol to love to procrastination, Pressfield describes in detail the many faces of resistance.
In reading these descriptions of resistance, I couldn’t help but think of therapy. Therapy is often an artistic endeavor where my professional expertise meets the wide variety of human experience and together we create a new paradigm for the future. When I reflect on it that way, I can’t help but ponder how the resistance may show up for my clients.
- Dreading sessions perhaps?
- Too afraid to pick up the phone to even schedule a session?
- Perhaps beating yourself up for even feeling as though you need a therapist?
- Ignoring the issue hoping it magically disappears?
- Trying once again to solve it all yourself?
- Too stuck to even find a therapist?
Resistance is a powerful force that often prevents us from moving forward. But as Pressfield articulates, “the greater the resistance, the more important the work.”
“One of the largest, strongest horses in the world is the Belgian draft horse. Competitions are held to see which horse can pull the most, and one Belgian can pull eight thousand pounds. The weird thing is if you put two Belgian horses in the harness who are strangers to each other, together they can pull twenty to twenty four thousand pounds. Two can pull not twice as much as one but three times as much as one. This example represents the power of synergy. However, if the two horses are raised and trained together they can learn to pull and think as one. The trained, and therefore unified, pair can pull not only twenty four thousand pounds but will hit thirty to thirty-two thousand pounds. The unified pair can pull an extra eight thousand pounds simply by being unified.” – Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership
Early on in my career as a Marriage and Family Therapist I could sense the power of working with couples. For many therapists and counselors it is fear inducing to be in a room with two people who are so in sync. However, I have always found it intriguing. Couples who are committed to one another and share a future, are powerful both in their relationship and individually. There is a synergy that gets created between two people. And when couples are unified, nearly every area of their life is impacted with that power.
At the same time, that same energy can also tear couples apart. And it can happen quickly. Like I shared in a previous blog, 3 Reasons Couples Therapy is so Important, when couples face issues it can feel terribly isolating. On top of that, it is common for partners to begin to build elaborate stories about the hows, whats, and whys their partner is hurting them. Assumptions start to compound the issues and suddenly a miscommunication feels like a free fall into the abyss for both partners.
I always remind couples that their job is to work together and put me out of work. It seems couples therapy is always more work up front than people anticipate and at the same time, when communication and connection starts to improve the synergy snaps back much faster than they anticipated.
Cultivate and nurture that synergy. It makes a couple a force to be reckoned with!
I often think to myself, “Self… maybe it is time to go earn a PhD so that you can finally study the connection between food and mood.”
Well, it turns out there is more research than ever on this and I have found a video linking it all together in a neat little 9 minute YouTube video.
I learned of Dr. Peter Breggin’s work in 2014 when Michael and I began researching more about how the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) was written. Dr. Peter Breggin is a psychiatrist who early on in his career realized that psychiatric medications had little science behind them. Dr. Breggin outlines his journey and how he now uses his extensive knowledge to defend people who act out of character when placed on psychiatric medications in his book Medication Madness.
Below is a link to his latest work in defending a young woman in Massachusetts. It’s an ongoing inside look at the effects of psychiatric medications and the media’s ability to shape the publics understanding in an ongoing blog series.
Check it out:
The longer I practice therapy the more passionate I become about client autonomy.
Autonomy from a sociological perspective defined by wikipedia is, “the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision.”
The foundation of my work is in reflecting back what clients present as the problem or their perspective, educating clients about what I know (typically what research says) and sharing my perspective as a professional. With these components clients will often uncover more options.
More options create a sense of autonomy. It’s the shift from this is happening to me to I am happening to it.
My goal is for clients to leave sessions feeling like their life is back in their hands, they are no longer held captive by patterns or habits, and that they are armed with information and options.