I see psychotherapy as being a process of healing rather than a method of treatment; beyond relieving uncomfortable symptoms and resolving difficult experiences, healing is really about becoming as fully as possible who we are, about becoming free to make (and live with) our own choices, and about developing compassion for ourselves and others. My approach to therapy and counseling focuses on facilitating the natural wisdom of the psyche, and on going together into whatever experiences this healing process requires.
The poignant image of ‘root and branch’ is significant for psychotherapy just as it is for Chinese medicine: symptoms (the ‘branch’) are connected to deeper causes (the ‘root’), and healing requires that we address root and branch together. In this sense, our suffering can be a call for us to go deeper into the life of the heart, the work of the psyche–for us to heal not just the symptom but to follow its path toward wholeness.
Often it is traumatic experiences of various kinds–whether personal or intergenerational–that are at the root of whatever symptoms are arising. These injuries affect us deeply, and linger in the layers of the psyche in which body and spirit are one—what C.G. Jung called the psychoid, and what in Chinese medicine is referred to as jing. In psychotherapy, these wounds become accessible for healing and transformation through stories, through dreams, through symbols, through relationship, through the body, and through a variety of other means.
When welcomed in psychotherapy, these injuries we carry show up not just as symptoms or suffering, but in the healing process, as guides and teachers, as opportunities to go forward in new ways, and as experience from which we can learn—they show up in images, in the imaginal, in our bodies, in our hearts. And dreams are essential—they are the doorway in, the ‘royal road’ to communication between us and the deeper realms, a sacred vehicle for insight, relationship, and transformation.
Intuition, feeling, trusting the knowledge of the heart, these are at the core of how this healing process works, for the most fundamental injury from trauma is disconnection from one’s own experience–the belief that one’s very knowing is somehow not to be trusted. But this injury can, indeed, be healed–in ways that go beyond our wounds, toward post-traumatic growth and evolution.