“Consciousness is a fundamental thing, the fundamental thing in existence — it is the energy, the motion, the movement of consciousness that creates the universe and all that is in it – not only the macrocosm but the microcosm is nothing but conscious- ness arranging itself.” – Sri Aurobindo
Is My Therapist “The One?”
Sometimes doing what is right for yourself means disappointing other people. This is one of the most valuable lessons I learned through the sessions I had with my therapist last term. I have faced challenges in personal and professional relationships when making decisions for the health and well-being of myself. These challenges appear when I feel like doing something that is good for me, but will disappoint another person. Now, I am not the only human being on Earth that struggles with this and that is why I want to talk about it.
I ended the therapeutic relationship with my most recent therapist, and it was hard. The emotions I went through were very similar to ones I have had when I break up with someone or tell a boss that I can’t take that extra shift. There was guilt and shame. It was less intense, but the emotions were still there. For me, the shame and guilt can keep me in relationships that I no longer want to be in and of course, this applies to switching therapists.
There are many reasons to end a therapeutic relationship. For me, I could not continue to afford the price of mine and I wanted to be exposed to more than one style of therapy. Come to think about it, it does not matter why a person wants to find a new therapist. It could be important to explore what didn’t work or how the therapy should end, but the most important part of the process for me was empowering myself to make a different choice. I chose to simply express to my therapist that I needed to find a more affordable therapist, I appreciated her work, and then I let all judgement go.
One thing I did not do was apologize and I think that is an important aspect of doing what is right for me. Apologizing often comes from feeling that I did something wrong and in this case I did not. I took care of myself and there is not shame in that. It is important to understand why am I apologizing because that is what makes it authentic and there would not be authenticity in saying, “I’m sorry (for choosing something right for me).” There was more authenticity in saying, “I appreciate the time and work you have spent with me.” Sometimes shame and guilt can lead to apologies that hinder the ability to advocate for myself.
Overall, this experience of terminating the relationship with one therapist and finding a new one was empowering. I was able to practice stating my needs, appreciating the other person, and then moving on. It has led me to greater understanding of therapy as a process. In my first quarter at Southwestern, I was fixed on completing a specific number of therapy sessions or reaching a new level of health, and making a small change like this has transformed my perspective. Therapy and life are both processes. My new therapist may not be the perfect fit, I do not know how many sessions I will have, and I am excited to discover what I will learn. I see therapy as a dynamic process where some days, I will see amazing growth, and other days I will feel a little lost. Wherever I am on this spectrum, I want to value that process and embrace myself. It is amazing what making a small shift in my life can do.
As a future therapist, I want my clients to be able to do what is best for them and my style may not be the right one. In this case, I would hope they could tell me that they needed to find someone different and if I feel like I can not work with them, I can refer them to potential therapists. On both sides, it is essential to listen to ourselves and greet what we hear with love and acceptance.
I encourage anyone who is feeling stuck in their therapy to embrace where they are and discover what the right choice is for them. If it is finding a new therapist, treat yourself with love and tenderness as you make that change. Any change in life is filled with courage and uncertainty, but as we go through this process we will learn how to bring those changes into our lives.
by Jane McConnell
MA in Art Therapy/Counseling student and graduate assistant at Southwestern College