I have a 34 year long history doing psychotherapy. I have learned from every person I have seen.
One of the most beautiful things in the world is an individual life lived out. We all have notions of how life should be (richer, thinner, more clever). But, you know, that imagination of how life should be isn’t happening. It is this life with all its warts, bumps, misdirections, and side roads that is real, and very powerful.
Psychotherapy is a terrific opportunity to stop for a moment and genuinely get to know the unique creature that you are. In Tao The Watercourse Way Alan Watts points out that water runs downhill because it is water. That is what water does.
Then Watts challenges us to consider that we too have a nature. He suggests that it is when we are acting in concert with our nature that we are most alive, creative, and productive.
I see psychotherapy as time for you to discover your nature and to imagine what it would be to align your life with it. The more closely your day-to-day life is aligned with your nature the more joy you will experience and the more effective you will be.
We in psychology have devised names for problems: depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, thought disorders. . . And we seek to discover which of these best fits you with a goal of knowing what is going on and what interventions might be most effective.
This is a noble and good pursuit, but often misses the point. The point is that you are one of a kind. You have needs, goals, aspirations, dreams, and capacities that are uniquely yours. It is easy for life to seem to need for you to be other than you are. When you try to run uphill it hurts and that pain can be described with all sorts of diagnoses, but at its root it is you being crosswise with your nature.