My therapist isn’t perfect
Mark, (pseudonym) sits across from me in sharply pressed blue shirt, black striped pants, and a beautifully knotted tie, well turned out are the words that go thru my mind.
“All my previous therapists had their own personal issues and I couldn’t work with them. Men, women, young, old…I’ve tried so many different kinds of counselling. And I read a lot of psychology.” He smiles and settles back into his chair as if to invite me to show him wrong.
I shuddered inwardly; this was going to be difficult.
I listened for a few moments to his litany of unsuccessful therapist encounters, a subtle showing off of all the terms he had learned from the internet. Then I ask him to pause, something I frequently have to do to silence the ‘explanation compulsion’, that stuckeness in the cognitive mind while the ego tries to fix things.
“Do you want to try something different?”
He hesitates, obviously put off that I have interpreted him, then nods although he clearly wasn’t sure this was what he was expecting.
I stand up and take a mirror off the wall. When I glance back at Mark, he looks like he had seen a ghost, perhaps he has, a hungry ghost.
“I don’t know if I’m ready for this.” Loosens his ties, sits up straighter.
I put the mirror, a big one with a metal sculpture around it on a chair in front of him and sit back in silence.
“Who is sitting in the chair now?” I ask him when he has collected himself again.
“I don’t know”.
“OK, let’s put ‘I don’t know’ in the chair.”
This is an interesting strategy, one that you can try at home, see “Thy this!” below. A good therapist, including the plant medicines, will be a clear mirror for you. There is a false perception that a good therapist knows better than you do, is further along the path than you. Sometimes this is true, but the best use of therapy is as a mirror in which you can recognize your own Soul.
Recently I witnessed a young therapist in session with a difficult client. She was working hard. Beware of that-if you are a therapist, or if you are the helper, notice if you are working harder than the client. If you are, then it’s time to step back and reassess the situation. Probably the client she was working with had narcissistic tendencies, and the two of them were in a tangle. The more she tried to solve the problem for him, the more he gave her the ‘Yes, buts…”.
The conversation went like this-
Therapist. “You could…”
Client. “Yes, but I’ve tried that and…” Or-
Therapist. “OK. How about this…”
Client “Yes, but I’m afraid of…” Or-
Therapist. “I understand, I’m wondering if you could…”
Client “Yes, but I can’t do that because…”
Or variations on that theme. A beautiful dance for two, which entrenches the client even further, and temporarily lets them believe that their assumptions about their own helplessness are correct and there is no way out of the emotional and spiritual trap they have created. The therapist is left with a sour feeling that despite all their hard work and effort, they were unsuccessful.
That is when bringing out the mirror is useful. And that is the beauty of plant medicines, there is no chance for resistance or denial. You can’t argue with a mushroom or vine or yellowish powder. What you experience is what you experience. The journeyer will have the opportunity to deny or resist what they learned while under the influence later, that is always possible and that is why integration is so important. Integration is catching what the journeyer saw in the mirror of Soul and translating it into terms that the cognitive mind can understand and work with. If the journeyer sees a mighty spider that tells her to dance more, then the integration is –how do you dance more in your life? Bringing what is glimpsed in the mirror and putting it into every day terms is the goal of good integration of any counselling insights.
Not all learnings during therapy or journeys have to have actionable. The integration may be a new way of washing dishes or walking to the store, or realising that we are an inextricable part of the Great Net and everything we do or say or think is significant. That may be enough. A body sense of rightness of being, clarity and inner peace.
Soul catching is another technique for seeing a reflection of Soul. By looking out into the great context of the environment, the environment becomes a clear mirror, better most times than another person or a theory or the internet. Soul Catching is the technique I teach through my book “Soul Catching, Finding sacred connections in every day environments” (Star, 2015)
The internet is the worst mirror of all for Soul. It is constructed for the purpose of illusion and keeps people addicted to the human-only world, with its attendant hungry ghosts, immature frivolities, or my beloved describes, a narrative written by a nineteen year old for a fourteen year old. Ha!
Keep in mind, the purpose of any therapy is not be lectured at by a superior person who has their sh*t together more than you. The purpose of good therapy is to be a clear mirror in which you can recognize your own Soul. That is all there is, there is nowhere, where you are not.
1. Pick an issue that you are currently struggling with- it can be something personal, relational, or spiritual. I feel like I’ve lost my life’s direction.
2. Find a mirror and sit in front of it. Look long, hard and deep. Don’t flinch or look away for too long. You can take short breaks to rest your eyes.
3. Ask the reflection about the chosen topic. Wait. Notice the environment. Notice if there are messages from the environment. While I was taking a break from looking in the mirror, I gazed outside and noticed some honey bees flying between the flowers on my balcony. Message: Keep working hard on your projects. Be a bee. Don’t worry about the future too much; just do the work before you today.
4. Keep talking to your reflection. Use a following back technique (See previous postings) “I hate looking at myself in a mirror. I wonder why? Well, when I look into this mirror right now I notice how wrinkled my face is. So I’m wondering why that feels uncomfortable. Why is that uncomfortable? Well, because women are supposed to be beautiful, perfect, sexy, young and unwrinkled. Who says that?”
5. Keep going with the questions until the bread crumb trail leads to the home place of your concern. “I don’t have to look like what the Dark Machine says I have to look like to be accepted. I can like myself, even with my wrinkles and older skin, its ok, it’s me.”