My approach to psychotherapy is influenced by the warrior’s approach to conflict: wherever there is conflict, there is something to be learned. That learning can take place on multiple levels (e.g., somatic, cognitive, emotional, relational, transpersonal), and the warrior integrates information from all these sources to find solutions to problems. Learning, and healing, can only take place, however, when conflict is faced head on, and not resisted. This does not mean the warrior rushes forward, unprepared, into any conflict the instant it is recognized. Pain can be an important part of healing, but not all pain is good pain, and my role as a psychotherapist is to help my clients learn (or relearn) the difference between pain that is punitive and harmful and pain that is instructive and necessary for growth. I strive to do this by harnessing the power of somatic, cognitive, emotional, relational, and transpersonal knowledge in the therapy room.
Everyone has a body, and if we’re lucky, our bodies are always sending us messages about what we need. Many people have lost contact with their bodies over the course of their lives. Maybe they know when they are tired, or hungry, or sleepy, or horny, but that’s about it. I believe that the body can be an important instrument for healing, if we learn to pay attention to it and heed its advice.
Everyone has a mind, and if we’re lucky, our minds are constantly helping us figure out how to get our needs met. Many people have learned to distrust their thoughts, or have been taken in by harmful thoughts. Either way, they are out of balance as a result. Under reliance on one’s own brainpower, or over reliance on that of others, can both lead us astray. I work with clients to better understand their thoughts and to tell the difference between rational and irrational thoughts.
Everyone has a heart, and if we’re lucky, our hearts point us to what matters most in our lives. Many people’s hearts have been so wounded over time that they have walled them off, and as a result can feel neither pain nor pleasure. My goal is for my clients to develop the emotional intelligence necessary for them to bare their hearts again, and for them to realize that even painful emotions can be beautiful.
Everyone has people, and if we’re lucky, those people show us love and kindness and we show it back. Many people have only ever had dysfunctional relationships in their lives, in which people use each other, blame each other, and distrust each other. The therapeutic alliance between client and therapist presents an opportunity to re-write what relationships can be.
Everyone has a soul, and if we’re lucky, our connection to something bigger than ourselves gives us strength, faith, and a reason to celebrate life. Many people are uncomfortable talking about or even thinking about spirituality, surrounded as we are by religious strife, hypocrisy, and spiritual materialism. I invite my clients to bring whatever relationship they have with the transpersonal dimension, and I happily work with those who would like to bring more of this into their lives.
With all these sources of knowledge working for us, I believe that we will be better prepared to face life’s challenges enthusiastically and with the steady determination of a warrior.