A Laboratory for the Soul
The ancient alchemists, who watched with reverent anticipation over their beakers as they billowed their fires, were not simply trying to turn lead into gold.
The earnest ones were at the same time working to identify the lead in their own lives and transform it into a golden vein of inner enlightenment and personal change.
Thatâs how psychotherapy as I practice it works. Itâs challenging, sometimes brooding, surprisingly mystical, and amazingly rewarding work.
Hereâs one personâs story of such transformation:
In his early 30’s, “Ben”* came to see me with a new HIV diagnosis, methamphetamine addiction, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. On his intake form he wrote, âI want to approach counseling from the standpoint of accepting myself and loving myself as a gay man.â He worked at therapy, completing the weekly homework assigned him to facilitate integration of work done in session, and bringing specific topics to discuss the next week.
Therapy became his laboratory.
Slowly, we reviewed the many relationships and interactions that formed him as the child of a fundamentalist pastor, how he went about thinking through challenging issues he faced daily, and exploring new ways to interact with others. Everything went into the beaker to become distilled, refined, and recombined. The fires sometimes scalded. But the iridescent feelings that come with real change kept rising to the surface.
As we approached his one-year anniversary of therapy and of being clean of methamphetamine, he recalled how I had previously remarked that he needed to learn how to become enough for himself: âI had no idea what that meant or how I was supposed to do that. Now I am enough for me. I donât know how therapy works, but it works.â He had become enough for himself. And so it was that âBenâ* had discovered gold.
Therapy is a deeply spiritual, though not necessarily religious process.
It reconnects us to ourselves, others, and to a sense of âplaceâ in the universe.
If that is the experience that you want, no matter the specific counseling techniques that I might combine to help you in that process, then I definitely want to work with you.
Single, married, gay, straight, it does not matter. I invite you to contact me today.
*Named changed to protect his privacy. Story shared with client’s permission.