Bruce Springsteen on his own psychotherapy.
“In all psychological wars, it’s never over, there’s just this day, this time, and a hesitant belief in your own ability to change. It is not an arena where the unsure should go looking for absolutes and there are no permanent victories. It is about living change, filled with the insecurities, the chaos, of our own personalities, and is always one step up, two steps back.” (Springsteen, pg. 312)
Time to Heal
Recently, a young couple came to me and agreed to enter into therapy for the very first time. It was a constructive beginning and during the assessment session they were able to identify the main difficulty in their marriage. At the end of every assessment session, I ask if there are any questions of me. The husband raised his hand and asked “How long will this take?”
This question, in the context of therapy and the healing it intends, is unanswerable. In today’s digital and processed world, most completion times are known and measurable. The instructions on the frozen pizza box tells us how long to keep it in the oven and at what temperature. MapQuest tells us how long it will take to drive to Detroit and back again. But the human psyche and the human heart do not operate that way.
In my experience of working with people who have addictions, depression, anxiety, insecurities or fears, the road to balance and healing can go on for an undetermined amount of time. Some people come in looking “to be fixed”, as if therapy were changing a lightbulb or installing a new battery, but therapy does not work that way. We are constantly changing, constantly evolving. As Springsteen correctly observed “it is about living change” and the change never stops, because our journeys never stop. We continue to move forward, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. We continue to have days of good functioning and days of not so good functioning. Days when we can manage our own personal chaos and days when that chaos threatens to overwhelm us. Days when the shadows of our past are manageable and days when those shadows threaten to engulf us.
What is often not well understood is that therapy is a journey of self-discovery. It attempts to answer the question “how did I get here from there?” The journey continues, because the self-discovery continues. And it is the calling of the therapist to walk the journey with the client as long as needed.
Springsteen, Bruce. Born to Run. Published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster. Page 312.