Blogging is public and psychotherapy is private. Sharing my knowledge with you is a challenge.
My professional learning is grounded in theory based on books, lectures, seminars and certificate programs. But my deep knowing and empath comes from my intimate meetings with courageous and determined people who have given me their trust. The work takes place in what I consider sacred space.
It takes many steps and blunders before we reach the first step to deep healing and real recovery.
We can be in pain because we’ve lost a person or an object dear to us. We can be frightened or humiliated because our longed-for plans and expectations have crashed around us. We cry, blame others and blame ourselves. We rail at the injustice around us.
But mostly, we are bewildered and thrashing blindly. Hopefully, we are not reaching for food, drugs, alcohol, dangerous relationships, and risk-taking to escape our bewilderment.
Eventually, our bewilderment is so thorough that we feel forced to ask for help. Even then, we ask for help to get our world in order, to stop pain, and to regain or recreate what we have lost.
Through the course of my forty years as a psychotherapist, I have heard this question from my adult eating disorder patients. Whether they are in their thirties, forties, fifties or sixties, they ask, “Aren’t I too old to resolve this eating disorder? Isn’t it too late for me to change my life?
I’m increasingly grateful for my age. My words of encouragement will not give them a believable response. But my existence as an older woman living a satisfying life does reach them. My presence gives them hope, even in their denial of hope.
But what are the details that bring about healthy change? It’s not diet and exercise. It’s not medication. It’s not a physical makeover or an affair.
An eating disorder forces a person into the body. The sensations of eating, starving, purging, exercising, chewing on sweet or salt, pull a person away from internal experiences of emotion and thought. The person plunges into raw sensation or keeps that plunge in reserve, always knowing the plunge will take her away from what she can’t bear to experience.
Choices of how she will use her time are based on the sensational needs of the body to thwart awareness.
Yet she will despair over her behavior, her body and the quality of her life. She wants happiness.
Facts based on reality, not preferred reality, but actual reality, become difficult to grasp. Happiness is fleeting, sporadic and often not recognized when it occurs. Recogning what is meaningful grounds her in reality and can provide satisfaction throughout her life.
If you are new to psychotherapy or new to the psychotherapist you are considering, what's it like to start work online? Your questions may include:
1. What's it like to be with this person?
2. How will I feel with her?
3. I get a sense of a person when I am with them. How will I get that sense over a monitor?
4. I need support and warmth. Isn't virtual psychotherapy cold?
5. How can I share intimate personal information to a stranger on a screen?
6. How can she know me if she just sees my face on a screen?
7. What happens in online psychotherapy?
8. I need help. Can this kind of therapy work?
We need our internal structure to hold, especially when we can't see ahead.
We define ourselves by our personal values. We know who we are and live by our personal code. At least, that is what we convince ourselves.
But some of our values are what we wished we supported. Some of them are based on what we are told to support by respected others. And some of our values may be based on our fear of disapproval.
Shadows of the mind. Light and darkness. Active and passive. More in our depths that we can develop and use than we know.
People usually come to psychotherapy for the first time because they are in pain, bewildered and because everything they knew about problem solving no longer works for them. Going inside their psyches seems like the last option. Even then, they do not know what to expect. At first, they want to know how long it will take to fix their lives.
This is a normal response when a person is plunged into an unrecognizable