#014 - God In Psychotherapy

God, yup that’s right, I'm going to talk about God in psychotherapy. Everybody just calm down it’s going to be ok! It seems interesting to me to combine two often ineffable topics: God and psychotherapy. People since the beginning of spoken word have been trying to describe this sense of something greater than themselves, this presence, this energy, which is beyond description. Also with psychotherapy we have been trying to find a way to move this “soft science” to a “hard science,” to find some credibility for what we know works and maybe even get insurance to pay for it! Yet psychotherapy is not a hard science and actually what makes it work, at least in my experience, is the softness and yielding that allows the process to unfold in a myriad of ways.  I don't doubt that we will find a way to make psychotherapy a “hard science” but I imagine we will lose some of the magic in the process, such as what happens when we try to put this God thing in a language box and make it concrete.

I imagine that everyone reading this post has some reaction to the word God. It’s not like the word lettuce or something; it’s laden with thousands of years of bloodshed, dogma, conflict, but also the root of many of the altruistic works that we see in the world today. For the purpose of this post I would like to describe this word God as love and presence. This is my experience of this Higher Power, of the Mystery of the Universe. I experience this sense of love and presence most often when working with clients and when spending time in quiet and stillness.

The coolest thing is, and the reason why I love to practice psychotherapy, is that every week I have experiences with this vast presence in the office. I see people come in suffering with emotional pain, physical pain, and mental pain looking for some relief. We do some work together and there is a shift, not every time, but many times. There is a sense of some space, some presence inside of them, and often more compassion and love for themselves. This to me is God. This to me is us touching into their deepest self which is untouched by trauma, mental illness, and addiction. I get inspired by this, I get fired up by these experiences! 

Through the bravery of my clients to turn towards themselves and travel down through the muck to the kernel of love and presence inside of them I am impacted. I experience gratitude and awe at their process, however painful and slow.  Through them I learn about the patience of growth, the power of love and presence, and the joy of discovering that unwounded part of them.

Even if you don’t call it God or sense the immensity of that sacred place in your clients, know that it exists and it is guiding us, clients and therapist, on the path of healing.  It requires patience and softening to experience it, but it is there if you just pause, right when you want to act, and let it arise to guide the session.