Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org under the name Clara Bridges.


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Why The Use Of Imagination in Psychotherapy Matters

This is a really thought provoking and important article by psychotherapist Joshua Miles, on the importance and power of imagination (and metaphor) in therapy. The article points out that “some people in therapy benefit more from working within the world of metaphor and imagination, than exploring what is more factual or ‘real’….. it can be in abstract or creative patterns of thinking, which can lead us down meaningful avenues of self-exploration and growth”. It took me a while to see this; in the earlier stages of my therapy I was dubious of using ‘non-factual’ aids as facilitators of internal change. However, the longer I have been in therapy the more vital imagination and metaphor have become, and, aside from the therapeutic relationship itself, I would say that for me they have been the biggest agents of change. As this article highlights, I think that the power of imagination and metaphor rests in their inherently personal nature and malleability. To quote: “Through imagination, we can add or remove meaning as necessary, and there are no wrong or right answers.”

I think this is an interesting and important post for any therapy client to read – for me, it is particularly key at this time as I am currently on a six week ‘therapy break’, and using imagination and metaphor will be crucial in helping me to deal with the ‘gap’. They will enable me to keep the memory of my therapist alive; to challenge and re-interpet any internal resistance and counter-productive feelings; and to think of creative ways to make the best use of this time, so that I can learn from it and have interesting ‘stories’ to tell my therapist when we resume!

I know that I will re-read this article a number of times over the coming weeks, and hope you will find it helpful too!

Joshua Miles MBACP

People enter into therapy for different reasons, whether to understand bereavement and loss, or to explore a recent spate of anxiety. In therapy there are many aspects of our lives, experiences and relationships which can be explored. Therapy emphasises the importance of exploring our minds, seeking truth or clarity and uncovering our past. This exploratory process takes place in the hope that we may unburden ourselves from a myriad of complex thoughts or feelings.

This is why imagination becomes so important in therapy, because it allows us to explore thoughts and experiences, which if shared in the outside world, may not be understood. Imagination enables us to view or interpret experiences with a variety of different lenses which we can alter, change or shift as our mind explores concepts further.

Why Imagination Matters

All of us hold the potential for imagination, creativity and reflective thought, and can benefit from thinking…

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Because you have the faith and love to see

I have been incredibly fortunate during this long summer therapy break, to have the support of some wonderful friends, some of whom are some distance away. To all those who have loved me in their hearts – I am so grateful, and send them love from mine.

I hope you will forgive me for making this poem too, about therapy, though I am sure Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a rather different sort of relationship in mind when she wrote it! But I want to use this poem to thank, from the bottom of my heart, her who ‘hearkened to what I said between my tears’ and who looked ‘through and behind this mask of me’. Nothing repels her, and I am incredibly lucky to have her by my side through this journey to – wherever it may lead.

Following on from this poem, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote the following, perhaps more famous, lines: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….”. My therapist knows that I love her – and these verses capture one way in which that is true…..

To D


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What I want to play

Many months ago, I asked my therapist what her favourite piece of piano music was, as I wanted to learn to play it for her. She (of course) asked me why I wanted to know! And she also said that her choice would vary, depending on the moment. But most importantly, she said that what she really wanted to know was what I wanted to play.

At first I think I saw this as just some kind of psychotherapy avoidance tactic – just another way of ‘getting out of’ personal disclosure. But we talked about it several times, and it became clear that this was another instance of her being genuinely interested in me, and in what I like and need, and in what those things can tell her. She was very keen to emphasize that my sessions are my space, and very much about me, and this was another example of an occasion where it would be most helpful to think about came into my mind when I said that I wanted to play for her. She also made the very valid point that one reason why I was asking was because I might feel as though I had to please her, and so focusing on what I wanted to play, was another way of demonstrating that I didn’t need to do that.

I told her that I didn’t know what I wanted to play. Which was one reason why I asked. However, a few months later I came across Ludovico Einaudi’s ‘Giorni Dispari’ and immediately knew it was what I wanted to play for her. It was beautifully simple and moving, and it moved me to tears on a number of occasions.

I immediately came to associate this piece with her. And in the run-up to the therapy break it was intimately tied up with feelings of impending loss and separation, and both the playing and the listening were often accompanied by heavy crying.

I am learning this piece for her. I am practising it more diligently than I have practised anything in a long time! Not because I want to please her, but because somehow, I want it to be fitting for her. I want it to be a task that I undertake with her in mind, and I want to put the effort in to make it sound as beautiful as I can, just as I want to give of myself and put all my efforts into our sessions.

I am still practising. I’m not quite there yet. But by the end of the therapy break, or soon after, I hope to be. I may fear therapy breaks immensely, but I want to be able to look back on this one, and know that I learned to play, and shared with her, the piece that I really wanted her to hear. The one I chose. The one that’s all about me, at the same time as being all about her.