Each week I go to therapy. I've made it my consistent practice since 1999 to meet with my therapist regardless of the state of my circumstances. I never know what will come out in the session. Sometimes I complain about everyone in my life. Sometimes I unload the stress I am carrying. Sometimes I express gratitude for the healing grace my therapist has shown me. Rather than a problem-solving session, it is a place where I can be myself and that is okay. It is a place where I am welcome and where I can’t get it wrong.
Viewing entries tagged with 'personal stories'
It was just over five years ago when I attended the personal growth workshop that would change and shape my life going forward. For me, it was a crossroads in an inescapable torrent of anxiety and confusion. For others in attendance, it was time to refuel and reassess the direction in their lives. We all came together with the belief that we had work to do. I came to it after many years of outpatient work with a gifted therapist, while others came as an initial foray into their own personal work. In either case, what was promised was, “You will get out of it exactly what you need.”
During my son’s time in Wilderness Therapy, my wife and I were asked to come for a day visit. The goal was nebulous, but I assumed it was simply to have some time to connect and to possibly provide his therapist with some information for future family therapy work. We made our trip out to the field area—only getting lost twice—and finally arrived at the boy's group. Our reunion was tender and tearful. The simple way we used to describe the therapy to our youngest child, Isabella, was that Jake “was in the mountains, learning how to be happy.” It had been 8 weeks since we had last seen Jake, and after hugs and greetings, we sat down to learn about how and what he was doing. Although I had served hundreds of families as a Wilderness Therapist, I had never quite experienced the kind of joy I felt from seeing all this new growth and insight in my son.
When I decided to become a therapist, I was in my early 20’s. I thought I was beginning a career where I could put my skills to use to take away others’ pain. I was introduced to therapy early in life due to my many struggles in childhood and my mother’s instinct to seek guidance from child psychologists. I thought I had wisdom to offer—wisdom gleaned from the years of challenge and from the self-evaluation that therapy often offers. It wasn’t long into my career before I realized that I wasn’t in the business of helping people feel happy, but rather I was in the business of helping people feel everything. The ability to allow for the painful feelings of others is difficult as a therapist and almost intolerable as a parent. It also became clear early on that any wisdom I had was gleaned from my own struggles and mistakes and that offering advice to anyone was both arrogant and misguided. Trying to steer people in the direction I deemed best, removes the essential aspect that adds worth and depth to our human experience.
Nearly two decades ago when I was looking for a job, a mentor suggested I apply at a Wilderness Therapy program. I left several introductory phone calls with the clinical director to inquire about a potential job opening, but my attempts went unanswered. So I decided to make the three-hour drive to their base camp office in Loa, Utah. I arrived with my resume in hand, a flannel-lined sleeping bag in my duffel, and the confidence that I was right for the position.