“There is no-one – regardless of how beautiful, sure, competent or powerful – that is not damaged internally in some way. Each one of us carries in our hearts the wound of mortality. We are particularly adept at covering our inner wounds. No wound is ever silent", O'Donohoe.
As long as humans have existed, psychotherapy has existed, in infinite forms, transcending all cultures. Psychotherapy is relationship. Life is relationship. To be born enslaves us to both joy and suffering - physical, mental, emotional. As C.S Lewis observed “the pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That’s the deal” and vice versa. Joy and suffering are inextricably linked eternally. You can’t experience one without knowing the other. Humans eternally strive to seek freedom from suffering and "the purpose of psychotherapy is to set people free" Rollo May. We as human’s struggle with the juxtaposition and psychotherapy strives to help one merge the opposites of feeling lending equanimity...
Psychotherapy, in its most pure idealistic wisdom evades categorisation It is vast, an all encompassing art form that cradles the human spirit on its never ending aspirational journey toward wholeness. Art eludes definition. It simply is. "Good art wounds as well as delights. It must, because our defences against the truth are wound so tightly around us. But as art chips away at our defences, it also opens us to healing potentialities that transcend intellectual games and ego-preserving strategies", Rollo May.
There are as many psychotherapies as there are psychotherapists. No two therapists are alike and no two patients. "Each person's map of the world is as unique as their thumbprint. There are no two people alike...no two people who understand the same sentence the same way...", Milton Erickson. Every individual on this planet comes with their own unique perspectives on self, other and the world around them.
Humans bring the sum of their collective humanity to the experience of the relationship. It will change, grow and evolve in every breath and heartbeat of every moment that they live. Life will leave them changed moment by moment. The human they were is deserted day to day as they become someone new with every waking moment and interaction of every waking day. “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed”, C.G. Jung. Change and transformation is a certainty...
If history is a constant, infinite dialogue between the present and the past - Our own and that of the world, then within the context of psychotherapy - historical facts are subjective, chosen by the individual documenting and recording them, from their individual perspective. In a sense - everything is history and yet nothing is history. This is ultimately liberating…
Our history is in and of itself an infinite, living, growing, flowing, evolving experience that can never be truly recorded accurately. If we view it in the context of a generational family of individuals who have gone before we can heal our wounds when we embrace it all, accept it unconditionally and continue seeking and exploring.
Psychotherapy is both exquisite and complex, constructive and deconstructive, active and passive, engaging and evocative. It is a therapeutic art form that mirrors humanity itself. It’s implicit subjectivity both defies and belies scientific categorisation. Attempts at imposing such definintion and confinement upon it in terms of history deprives it from it’s soul as it’s essence challenges categorisation and limitation. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt within the heart”, Helen Keller.
It’s history resides inside of the patients and therapists who utilise this artful therapeutic modality to create expansion and simultaneous unity. Eternally striving to reconcile joy and suffering. Perpetually seeking integration.
“Perhaps there is more understanding and beauty in life when the glaring sunlight is softened by the patterns of shadows. Perhaps there is more depth in a relationship that has weathered some storms. Experience that never disappoints or saddens or stirs up feeling is a bland experience with little challenge or variation of color. Perhaps it's when we experience confidence and faith and hope that we see materialize before our eyes this builds up within us a feeling of inner strength, courage, and security. We are all personalities that grow and develop as a result of our experiences, relationships, thoughts, and emotions. We are the sum total of all the parts that go into the making of a life”, Axline.
Oft times psychotherapy leaves me with more questions than I have answers and yet I continue to seek inside reflecting as questions arise… Psychotherapy is an art that facilitates that exploration allowing humanity to evolve through the experiential relationship, excavating and discovering all of the “self”, facilitating creation and evolution, striving towards a realisation of ones limitless potential. “The aim of psychoanalysis and most forms of conventional psychotherapy is to heal the radical split between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the psyche so that a person is put in touch with “all of his mind”, Wilber.
"The individual is defined only by his relationship to the world and to other individuals; he exists only by transcending himself, and his freedom can be achieved only through the freedom of others. He justifies his existence by a movement which, like freedom, springs from his heart but which leads outside of himself", De Beauvoir.
We all have an inner yearning to connect with the deepest most meaningful part of our spirit so that we can most fully live in “I amness”. In psychotherapy our history is simultaneously written and unwritten. We can wander amidst the landscapes of our history and the history of all who have gone before and all who are yet to come. It charts humanities call to be and facilitates the ability to transcend. In reality psychotherapy is truly an indefinable process as its meaning is sacred, unique and personal to each individual. No two journeys are alike...
“I change you as you unfold and you change me as I unfold”, Bebe.
Annie O'Brien M.Sc. MIACP MIHA has a Masters Degree in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy from Turning Point Institute and Dublin City University. This course is one of the leading training courses in Ireland and is recognised by the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy (IAHIP) and the European Association for Integrative Psychotherapy (EAIP).