For a while I’ve been fascinated by the therapeutic material that can be provided through encountering the practical parameters and circumstances of therapy – for example, how we pay (which I wrote about here), and what we wear (which I wrote about here and here). In my latest article for welldoing.org, I wrote about what we learn through our response to the time-limited nature of a session, and the 50 or 60 minutes that circumscribe it. I enjoyed reflecting on this, and on how my response to the clock changed as trust and my therapeutic relationship developed. The article can be found here:
This process happens repeatedly during therapy. Even after three, four, five years, the breaking and the remaking happens. The shattering and the putting back together.
After time, it becomes a little easier to bear. Familiar in its recurrence, less shocking in its predictability. Maybe a little less painful – as if the pain has had its edges knocked off by repetition.
If only it were the mirror that could shatter and by putting itself back together could show me a different me. Instead the mirror stays steadfast and it is I who must repeatedly break and reconfigure until what I see reflected bears more resemblance to the truth. Or at least, what my mirror tells me is the truth – my breaking is far from finished.
The mirror flashes back at me all the different shards of myself; the ugly, jagged parts which I have to hold gingerly, but firmly, like infant selves, to fit them back into a whole.
The trouble with being broken in order to be righted, is that it can feel like the old breaking – the one that left us scarred and misaligned. The solution can feel a little like the cause, until we see that it’s the presence of the mirror, waiting to show us our true reflection, that makes the difference between the two.
It never fails to hurt me, this breaking. It never fails to amaze me, either.
Though I’ve written extensively over the last few years about my experience of open ended psychoanalytic psychotherapy, I’ve never really described my brief experiences with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the first of which occurred more than ten years ago, and the second of which occurred around six years ago. As with the many other different modes of therapy, I think it works well for some people and some situations, and less well for others. It was successful for me the first time, but utterly unhelpful the second, and I believe I now understand the reasons for that difference.
I recently wrote a couple of brief articles for the site Health Unlocked, about these two experiences of CBT. The first details my positive experience, and what I found valuable about the process, and can be found here: