What do you do? Who are you be-ing?
There is a feeling of starting over. This bleeds through in many ways. Like when people ask me what I do. I tell them I’m a psychotherapist. Then they ask, “What do you specialize in?” It’s a challenging response to step into. Most of the time, they want to know what kind of people I see - but more specifically - what kinds of diagnoses. So, when I respond to the deeper question embedded in the standard, “What do you do?", I say something about the gifts I carry in my soul. It’s something we all carry - but they’re difficult to talk about. Perhaps because of the vulnerability that comes with closer contact. An encounter with something actually real - the pretense stripped away - leaving only the naked bones that hold a person together. It’s a dilemma I face with clients. Working with, moving through, dancing side by side; freeforming our way into something that begs for exploration. So instead of talking about generalities of populations or diagnostic descriptions - I say something about what happens in the space I share with people - the wildness of the frontier of looking inward, the co-creation of terrain that supplies conditions necessary for coming closer to a landscape that offers unusual and startlingly spectacular vistas - including some that are quite scary and buried over by neglect. I say things like, “I work with people at relational depth where there is close proximity to feeling, to silence, to breath, to the unseen; to dreams, to yearnings…to secrets. To the dance between trust and protection. Gently, with all the softness of the world, exploring each layer of defense with warmth and wonder. And we move like this, back and forth, inside and out, outside and in until the magic of growth is encountered. I say it’s the stuff of magic because the way people move deep within their interior in the presence of another being is quite unpredictable. Nothing is scripted. There are no manuals for this. Only intuition and radical empathy and invitation. We journey together and make stops in unusual places - some of which can feel very dark and lonely or harsh and grating - sometimes, we cannot stay - with the reminder that every choice, every movement is just what it needs to be.” People wonder if I am a gardener or a dancer or a musician or an artist. I tell them all of the above. And with all of the tentativeness in the world, I add, “This is what it means to practice therapy in a deeply personal and human way. That is what I do. Or more closely, what and how I am.”