The inner work of therapy
Updated: 3 days ago
As Steve and I gradually grew Freedom Clinical Psychology in Sydney and now the new Parkside, Adelaide location, I often find myself reflecting on an idea I heard years ago at a clinical workshop run by our friends at the Birchtree Centre Glebe (www.bichtreecentre.com.au). It is the idea that when we make the choice to come to therapy, we are really making the choice to “do the work of therapy”. Put a similar way, the endeavour of coming to therapy is one in which we are choosing to “do our work”. Some clients come with this idea firmly in mind, others I feel, sense this in some way, but may not explicitly state it. - but what do these ideas mean?
Coming to therapy and committing to the process is not easy. We are often asked to look at our problems in new ways and sometimes this can be uncomfortable. It can often feel like real work, at other times it flows and seems to move effortlessly. It is a courageous and responsible acceptance of the need to do our own personal work - both for ourselves and for those we come into contact with. I feel like at different points in our lives we will all feel a calling to do our work. It might be at a transition point in our life – like moving between jobs, tensions arising in important relationships, becoming a parent for the first time or perhaps the loss of loved one. It can sometimes arise when we sense that the things that once gave us pleasure are no longer as satisfying. Or it could be when we sense we have lost contact with meaning in our life and we want to find the path to what we most deeply value.
All of this takes work and is not a passive process. Therefore, there is a need to do our own inner work.
I have been doing my own work in therapy on and off for years. I worked for many years with an analytical psychotherapist twice a week, have attended a form of group therapy known as Yalom group psychotherapy once a month for 6 years and for the last 16 months I have worked closely with an Internal Family Systems therapist. I believe this is an essential process as a therapist because we are fallible humans just like everyone else and my own therapy helps me uncover my own blind spots when I am working with clients. Hopefully, this means I don’t allow them to unconsciously effect the work we are doing together. On a personal level, my therapy helps me work through my own issues and to grow as a person in just the same ways my clients come seeking their own personal goals and growth.
As you do your own inner work and get deeper into your own therapy journey, you get to know yourself in new and intimate ways. At times this can be surprising, beautiful, shocking, even a little frightening. Ultimately though, it’s a rewarding path. The “work” of therapy points to an undertaking we engage in consciously where we choose to put on our hiking boots, our backpack and enter boldly, adventurously into new territories. Sometimes we return with treasure, other times we return empty handed. Yet we come back each session with enough curiosity and courage to do our work.
We welcome you to the Freedom Clinical Psychology Adelaide online space. We will be populating the space with all manner of our thoughts, insights and research from the world of psychological therapy and hope it is useful for you on your journey in some way.
And if you are about to embark on doing your own inner work with us, we wish you the best in your travels along the path. It’s a rich path indeed.