4.) KP: I know every client is different, but I’m curious to know, from your numerous years of experience as a therapist, what have you found to be the typical healing trajectory for clients dealing with trauma or other issues? In other words, how long does it take before a client can expect to see some lasting changes from the work?
Janice: I’ve asked myself this question often J. There’s a wide range of experience. I’ve seen some people for about 10 sessions and through that short-term work, they were able to make some significant changes. I’ve also worked with people for much longer, for years. Each person is dealing with something different – perhaps it’s trauma, or depression, or anxiety. There are a lot of things that bring people to therapy, which impacts the length of treatment. But, why somebody heals at the rate that they do is still a perplexing question to me.
One of the pieces I do notice is the impact of having the time to work on oneself outside of therapy. Some, but certainly not all, of the people who have been in therapy the longest, haven’t really carved out the time and space in their lives to do the work. Or, have not made the commitment to utilize the skills and awareness learned in therapy and apply them to their lives. There are a lot of reasons why this happens, but for many, their lives continue to move so fast that they come to therapy, but then they’re easily swept back into the patterns that brought them in the first place. There has to be space for someone to create a certain amount of body and mind awareness in their life, in order to start unraveling the patterns related to say, relationship issues, depression or anxiety.
KP: With that, you’re talking about not only the work they do with you in session, but what they are doing between your visits?
Janice: Yes, I find that the people who take up the practice of doing meditation, learning the skills of Dialectical behavior or cognitive therapy, or authentic movement, journaling, or doing some sort of body-mind practice, such as yoga or tai-chi – something that brings them into an awareness inquiry process on a regular basis – are the ones who tend to make changes faster. I feel that supportive groups that affirm ones practice are also necessary. The process of communing with others that are looking inward, learning from their experience, supporting growth, and sharing are vital. This can look like a meditation sangha, Al-anon, AA, anger-management group, Authentic Movement group, Body-Mind Centering study group, Somatic experiencing group, or church group, depending on the issue.
KP: That makes sense from my perspective as well, both personally and professionally. And I think that’s such an important and hopeful point: that the more one is able to carve out time and space to work on their healing, to look at oneself and connect with their experience, the faster they are going to make changes. Of course, everybody wants to reduce their suffering right away, but it’s good to have realistic expectations about what is involved in the healing process.