Written by Eunice Ra, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Studies consistently show that psychotherapy is an effective and powerful method to overcome various mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Too many people suffer alone, silently and needlessly, when many mental issues are treatable and manageable.
In the wake of high-profile suicides such as that of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, we realize that even those who appear to be happy and successful may suffer in silence. The social stigma against mental disorders prevails and prevents individuals from seeking help that they absolutely need. I strongly recommend consulting a qualified mental health professional, who can provide a safe and confidential environment and utilize evidence-based techniques and treatment methods to those in need. As a psychotherapy practitioner for over 20 years, I’ve seen many positive outcomes when clients are actively engaged in their course of treatment and recovery.
Psychotherapy is not only a course of treatment and recovery, but also a form of self- discovery—a way to explore and discover one’s hidden passions, strengths, potentials, and inner beauty. People often tend to pay more attention to their flaws and mistakes than their own goodness and success. We are often our own biggest critic and we deny or ignore our pain, sadness, loneliness, and confusion. Psychotherapy helps us to honor our deepest emotions and embrace what is happening to us in the current moment, which is an essential part of the healing process. In a safe and trusting therapeutic relationship, we can validate what we have, accept and appreciate who we are, and envision what our purposes and goals are in our journey in life. As Carl Jung once said, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”
My therapy journey
After another long day of work, I am standing at the door of my therapist’s office trying to catch my breath. The office is connected to my therapist’s home with a great deal of consideration for privacy concerning both her clients and herself. As you enter the driveway, leafy California-native trees stand tall, and you will be amazed to discover a secret garden in the middle of the bustling city of Los Angeles. The flowers and plants in the garden are changing all the time and friendly to butterflies and hummingbirds in the warmer weather.
Over the entrance of her office is a carved inscription in Latin saying “VOCATUS atque non VOCATUS deus aderit.” In English, this means “Called or not called, God will be there.” Carl Jung had this phrase inscribed on the doorway of his stone house. Being a well-respected Jungian analyst, my therapist, Harriet, cherishes these words. For me, it provides a sense of His presence in my journey through therapy.
I was introduced to Harriet around the time my daughter turned a year old. Understandably, my biggest struggle at that time was finding a work-life balance while being a brand new mother. Work had always been my number one priority, and it was an adjustment to shift my focus between my baby and my work on an ongoing basis. I was very grateful that life had given me more than I had asked for. However, my mind was restless with the thought that I might be missing something more meaningful that I would regret later on in life. In my clinical training, I was required to see a therapist myself and I went to a couple of therapists before Harriet. This time though, I had voluntarily signed-up for therapy, and I was sincerely committed to my weekly meetings with Harriet that lasted for over two years.
Harriet’s office is an absolute sanctuary and an elixir from the outside world. Every time I sat down with Harriet in her office, she opened our conversation with complete silence. She gently gazed at me with a warm and inquisitive look on her face, and always stayed in full eye-contact until I spoke the first words. It is as if she was waiting for me to take whatever time I needed. I felt my exhausted body and defeated soul from the mundane grind of life being held and understood by her empathic presence. A sense of relief often manifested itself through a quiet moaning sound or an unexpected gush of tears. There were a few times when I did not know what to say or where to start. Harriet sensed my uneasiness and showed her compassion by offering tea or lighting a candle.
This office was a place of transition from one state of being to another. Over time, our conversation tread deeper waters and I decided to undergo my own personal analysis. The encounter of my own shadow was so frightening and painful that my logical mind couldn’t even recognize its urgency nor reason with its hidden forces. It was terribly embarrassing to find a naive and needy child residing in my adult body. Therapy changed me to be non-judgmental and kind to myself, which helped me to grow out of my sorrow and loss. Thanks to the patience and skillful guidance of my therapist, I started to trust that I had been given, within myself, all the power and resources needed through this journey of healing and growth.
If you are interested in learning more about our psychotherapy services at Adaptable Human Solutions, please get in touch with us.