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Insight is a moment when we find truth. This truth can be general, as in the way of learning skills or better ways of coping, but often this truth is personal, because it comes at an emotional level and is subjective to one’s own experience. For months, years even, therapists will circle a behavioral, cognitive, or emotional block—i.e., what is standing in the way of insight—because the reality is that often the therapist doesn’t know any more than the client in how to remove, approach, or manage it. After all, we can only take someone as far as we have come—and which is why it is important for moments of two-person psychology to take place in session, because then the client’s insights become an antecedent to the therapist’s own growth. These insights are absorbed faster than even first-hand knowledge it seems, because the transfusion is mainlined into a vein that goes straight to the heart.
Outside the clinical hour though, this vein is harder to find, as our sleeves get rolled down to protect the skin, given the necessity of attending to and surviving ones daily. In therapy though, the work must be done, and the sleeves get rolled up, exposing our most authentic self, our truest form. Only our clients get to see this side of ourselves, others get moments of it, but through the lens of functioning in the roles of parent, friend, peer, and what have you. It is not that we are not ourselves outside of therapy, it is just that there is no space to hold all of what we are and the ‘all’ of another at the same time. You need a great space for this to occur…a sacred space I would contend.
The space to reveal who you are and become what you are is a second womb where you get to regenerate and heal. The therapist though is not the womb, nor the healer…healing is the work of the client, and the womb is the process of therapy—which is why I urge clients not to trust me per say, but to trust the process, as the process of therapy is the evidence-based practice that I know works, because I see it work—graduating clients through its completion into finding themselves in less despair, but perhaps not less pain, because accepting pain is part of living, once we accept that reality too. There would be no motivation to do therapy if it didn’t work, because to be frank, it would be unbearable, but fortunately that isn’t the case, and because of this, I get to do what I love.
This space though doesn’t just magically appear, it is constructed with intention, and starts with prioritization. The therapist and client need to work together to set the stage where the distractions of the world are shut out as much as possible, and where this hour is a standing point of importance in each of their busy lives throughout the continuity of therapy—a firm pole star in their week. To begin to venture into the depths of revealing oneself, you must also feel safe. You need a safe space. Part of this comes from honoring the parameters of the time together, and the other part comes by way of informed consent, a legal decree that stipulates one’s identity shall remain confidential, not withholding special circumstances, which are explained and consented to prior to the therapeutic work beginning.
From here then the therapist takes the reigns, and becomes, to lesser and greater degrees of effectiveness, the main intervention through which the therapy is conducted—i.e., the tool. The therapist does this by constantly toggling the dials of empathy, clinical judgement, honestly, relatability, and one’s own counter-transference and ego—for too much or too little of any one of these can create over-dependence, role confusion, and distrust on the part of the client, and similar effects, in addition to compassion fatigue, on the part of the therapist. It means not passing personal judgment or bias, and checking it if it comes into the picture. It means practicing and not wavering in non-discrimination, where equal care is given to all clients, regardless of: age, race, ethnicity, physical ability or attributes, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, vaccination status, political views, citizenship, or criminal record. Simply put, it means that a therapist must love their client unconditionally, and yet objectively within healthy therapeutic boundaries.
The intervention of therapy though only ever works if the client trusts the process, and this means letting go of control, or at least being collaborative in that letting go. Sometimes it takes a while for clients to get here, and some never do and drop out of therapy; others ‘therapist hop’ trying to find “the one” that finally fits, or the one that checks their boxes enough so that they might let go of control in a way that aligns with their terms and understanding. The degree and speed to which clients get better is often equal to the degree that they open up in session, accept challenging and often difficult things to hear on the part of the therapist, and implement the tools and homework assignments outside of session.
All this effort takes place so as to allow for vulnerability. The mind though often reacts to vulnerability as a threat, and so to lower defense mechanisms, snooze the ego, and to be free of identity and to, just be, even in incremental degrees, is no small feat. To be vulnerable we must show ourselves and at the same time see ourselves. To do this it means the therapist must become a mirror that safely cradles the image of the client so that they can find themselves. It means the therapist is not treating the person in a top-down fashion—i.e., patient—but that the therapist treats the person as an equal sitting across from them—i.e., a client. For mirrors placed above or below will always cast a distorted view, as do mirrors subjectively tied to the client’s life, or distorted within from shame and living in a world that hammers us all out of shape. It does not mean the therapist is devoid of character though, but that the presence is authentic and reflecting their own process of vulnerability. After all, we can’t ask our clients to do what we cannot first do for ourselves.
And so, in having explained the above, I hope you can see why I’ve coined this sacred space, this safe space, this sanctuary and womb of healing, “The Insight Hour," for it is a space constructed and entered into a clinical hour of therapy, and where insights, aka these moments of truth, can be collected and shared. These insights are medicine. I am ever in awe at the beauty and wisdom of my clients, at their bravery for facing the pain and transforming it into something worn with pride and determination. Their stories have made me a ‘professional crier’ and a witness to the same. I get to hear the best parts of them, their fears, greatest losses, and live comedy moments that sometimes has me questioning if it isn’t I who should be paying for this front row seat. I am honored to be gifted with experiencing their feelings, they are all just so beautiful…I know I have already said this, but it is true and needs to be underscored. They are simply my heroes, and the world is a better world where their insights are heard. And so with permission from my clients, I give you their voice. I give you The Insight Hour.
Thank you to all my clients. I love you and I’m so grateful for our ‘hours.’
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