Doing the inner work of therapy
As Steve and I have gradually grown Freedom Clinical Psychology, I often find myself reflecting on an idea I’ve heard from other therapists and clients a like over the years. It is the idea that when we make the choice to come to psychological therapy, we are really making the choice to “do the work of therapy”. This idea often either explicitly or implicitly underpins the therapy process itself. Put a similar way, the endeavour of coming to therapy is one in which we are choosing to “do our work”. What do these ideas mean?
Committing to psychological therapy is not easy. We are often asked to look at our problems in new ways and sometimes this can be uncomfortable. It can often feel like real work. It is a courageous and responsible acceptance of the need to do our work. I feel like at some point or different points in our lives we will all feel a calling to do our work. It might be at a transition point in our life – like moving between jobs, feeling tensions in important relationships, becoming a parent for the first time or perhaps the loss of loved one. It can sometimes arise when we sense that the things that once gave us pleasure are no longer as satisfying. Or it could be when we sense we have lost contact with meaning in our life and we want to find the path to what we most deeply value.
All of this takes work and is not a passive process.
Steve, Dave and I have been doing our own work in therapy on and off for years. I work with an analytical psychotherapist twice a week and attend a form of group therapy known as Yalom group psychotherapy once per month. I believe this is an essential process as a therapist because it helps me uncover my own blind spots and to be aware of them when I am working with clients. Hopefully, this means I don’t allow them to unconsciously effect the work we are doing together. On a personal level, my own therapy helps me work through my own issues and to grow as a person in just the same ways my clients come seeking their own personal goals and growth.
As you get deeper into your own therapy journey, you get to know yourself in new and intimate ways. At times this can be surprising, beautiful, shocking, even a little frightening. Ultimately though, it’s a rewarding path. The “work” of therapy points to an undertaking we engage in consciously where we choose to put on our hardhat, take hold of our torch and enter into new territories. Sometimes we return with treasure, other times we return empty handed. Yet we come back each session curiously, diligently and courageously to the process of doing the work.
Steve, Dave and I welcome you to the newly created Freedom Clinical Psychology online space. We will be populating the space with all manner of our thoughts, insights and research from the world of psychological therapy and hope it is useful for you on your journey in some way.
And if you are about to embark on doing your own inner work with us, we wish you the best in your travels along the path. It’s a rich path indeed.
Written by Brad King