therapy& = therapy& ≠

To my mind, therapy(&) is a two-person process that only works when both people in the room are equally committed to interacting as honestly as possible. You'll get more out of it than you put in—synergy at work, hooray—but ante up you must. So—and I'd be remiss if I didn't say this at the outset—therapy with me can be hard work. I expect a high level of participation—honesty, commitment, continuity, feedback—from the people I see, and make every effort to give as good as I get.

Sometimes people who could really benefit from coming to see me… don't, because they think that spending time talking and thinking about themselves is solipsistic, self-indulgent, that "therapy" is essentially another way of saying “culturally-sanctioned whining.” (Oftentimes these same people feel that, as citizens of a first-world nation who have not experienced life-threatening illness, military violence or the deaths of everyone close to them, they don’t have real problems and therefore shouldn’t need therapy. I’ve heard this so often that I made up a name for it: The Rwandan Defense). Of course therapy and whining are two very different enterprises (and both have their place in any well-rounded life. But I digress). As inarguable visionaries throughout history—Socrates and Buddha, for two—have made clear, our chief responsibility in life is to know as much as possible about who we are and who we’ve been, so that at best we can act from the highest parts of ourselves, and at a minimum, we can avoid smacking other people in the head with our blind spots.

And I wish this went without saying, but unfortunately it doesn't: wanting to understand yourself does NOT mean admitting you're crazy, getting stuck in circles, or blaming your parents. It’s about understanding what has happened to you, getting a clear sense of how it has affected you, taking responsibility for working with it, and figuring out how the deepest, most essential part of you wants to move forward.