Creative people and spiritual practitioners alike are often fearful or dismissive of starting therapy because they imagine the process will make them feel judged, misunderstood, and perhaps worst of all— that they will be browbeaten into some medical standard of“normalcy”. People who pride themselves on thinking outside the box are rightfully reticent to enter into a practice they assume will promote conformity or rob them of their “edge.”
Popular media promotes this unattractive perception by portraying therapists as arrogant intellectuals (think Frasier Crane), sadistic narcissists (think Nurse Ratchet or Hannibal Lecter), or matronly middle-aged women with cable-knit sweaters and quirky turquoise jewelry (think Meryl Streep in “Prime”). Therapy patients are often depicted as hopelessly neurotic and self absorbed (the Woody Allen syndrome), and cultural stigma continues to mischaracterize reaching out for psychological help as a sign of weakness or “going soft.” All of this is really a shame, because the fundamental truth is: therapy is for rebels.
The process of psychotherapy is subversive. You are led to understand what forces (cultural, parental, political, religious, etc.) have been running your life, often without your consciousness or consent. You are no longer asleep to the hidden dynamics that run (or maybe ruin) your relationships. When your consciousness expands so does your power. A skilled therapist acts as the rearview mirror to your psychic blindspots, he or she can provide insights and perspectives you are unable to access from the limited vantage point of being in the driver’s seat of your life.
Therapy liberates you from the life-long programming you have received about who you are. Most of the time psychological and spiritual healing is not a process of adding on, of molding you into some standard of“health”- but a process of subtraction, of peeling away all the pain and patterning that makes you less of who you really are. In a world that is constantly trying to change you, therapy is a process that champions the discovery and renaissance of your authentic Self. While it may require processing painful emotions, the decision to start therapy is a way to affirm and celebrate your spirituality and artistry. Therapy isn’t a sterile procedure, it’s a creative endeavor. It is more about soul than stethoscope, more about numinosity than normality.
And none of it is selfish. When you use therapy to transform yourself you participate in the transformation of the culture. You become an empowered individual capable of standing in your truth and embracing your authenticity. As Krishnamurti so wisely said: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” When you work with a therapist you will identify what YOUR unique vision of health is, and learn how to claim it. The result is you end up healing the world because you have healed yourself.