When we break down the word psychotherapy, we come up with this:
- In Greek mythology, the goddess Psyche was the personification of the human soul.
- Psyche is defined as “the mind. . . considered as an organic system reaching all parts of the body.”
- Therapy comes from the Greek word therapeuein, which means to attend, guide, or serve.
Accordingly, it is the role of the therapist to attend, guide, or serve the psyche (soul) in a way that makes us feel better and pursues health and spiritual development. This means treating the whole self and working through the body.
This psychotherapy definition is radically different than the one since Freud’s time, in which therapists treat only the mind- “talk therapy.” That approach excludes the body.
Talking alone cannot encompass the experience of the whole person. It’s like texting as the only means of communication: it gives us some information, but leaves out so much. And, as Bessel Van der Kolk says, the body keeps the score, meaning that everything that happens to us (including trauma) is stored in the body.
This is why experiential therapy is so effective. It helps us find the clues to what is beneath the words, the ego, and the persona. The body speaks through movement, presence, and creativity. For example: Paying attention to how our breathing changes tells us so much about where we are limited and where we are free. Making art gives us another window into how we actually feel versus how we wish we felt.
All of this said, I know that the idea of experiential therapy can be scary. We spend so much time trying not to be vulnerable, especially in the presence of others, so this can be unfamiliar and even terrifying.
This is why I take it slow and move at your pace. I do this because:
a) you can’t do the work if you’re stressed
b) if change happens too quickly it can overwhelm you and halt that process.
It’s like fasting: we don’t want to release toxins so fast that it makes us sick. Moving at a slower pace means that when we do experience positive change, it sticks.
You as the expert on yourself. I’m not here to tell you what to do or to judge your decisions. I am here to witness as you explore some painful places and try on new ways of being. But in the end, my primary role is to help you accept all of you.