New Therapist

I had my first therapy appointment today.

She seems respectful and intelligent and versatile. She did not seem put off or patronizing that I have experience with therapy, nor did she seem to think I’m too smart or uppity.

She did mention a few concrete suggestions that I’m not sure of, but we’ll see where that goes. She suggested I go to Valparaiso (an hour away) where there is a music store that is into folk music, offers lessons, might sell my CD, and so on. People here don’t seem to think anything of commuting that far. She also mentioned she’s heard of a dance studio in the area, and mentioned the horses at Culver Academies.

She is going to talk to Joe.

She tells me she will likely use a self psychology approach with me, and she mentioned the names Kohut and Winnicott. Winnicott is one of the developers of object relations theory. Kohut is more associated with self psychology proper. Both are developments from classic psychoanalysis. Both are deep, not surface / function – oriented like CBT.

Her parting thought was an image of me swimming in a river upstream, bumping into logs; I added that I hurt the logs as much as they hurt me.

The one thing that makes me nervous is that she is not a Christian.

There is so much material in Christianity and my experience of it that — accurately or appropriately or not — makes the search for a whole and true self problematic. Having a Christian therapist, especially one like Joe who has so sensibly and deeply integrated faith and therapy (unlike some Christian counselors who just sort of mix the two together or slap one on the other like a band-aid), can help reassure a patient that the work of therapy is not sinful.

Working with a non-believer means I’ll have to sort that out by myself.

I mean, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Who doesn’t talk in an audible voice or write me personal letters but only speaks in my circumstances, through other people, and through the mechanics of my own mind and heart, and who is therefore difficult to distinguish from other voices.

I go back in two weeks.

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8 thoughts on “New Therapist

  1. I’m thankful that you had a positive experience. That’s great!

    Front Porch Music has a great reputation, one of the Jewels of the North End, quite used to performers of your caliber. The owners are old hippie Lutherans and real pillars of the Valpo community. At minimum worth a trip down Lincolnway if you ever come into Valpo for something.

  2. Do you really have trouble with intergrating therapy into your faith? I’m curious as to why? I totally get why you’d prefer a believer-same reason I prefer those who don’t present themselves specifically as “believer” therapists. I’m just wondering what your concerns are specifically…

  3. Thanks, manasclerk… I will probably make the trip after an appointment, since the office is on the way.

    Thordora… yes, it makes me nervous. Because there are so many strands within Christianity, and many differ about what they believe about the self, about mental health, and so on. And because in general secularists don’t believe at all in the idea of sin or fallenness. And so if a secular therapist tells me I shouldn’t feel guilty about x, for example, I have to decide whether they’re right or not, but if Joe told me, I would know he had already considered the question of sin and true guilt.

    Part of my whole issue is trying to figure out what it means to be a self, what it means to try to become myself, and how that all fits in with my faith. I have reasons to suspect that God likes selves and wants them whole and integrated, rather than wanting clones or empty vessels or robots or what have you. But I also have reasons to fear that he wants to obliterate me, that my duty is to give up on what I most long for or who I most think I am.

    See, there are verses that say things like “he who wants to save his life will lose it, but he who loses it for my sake will gain it” or “he who wishes to follow me must deny himself, take up his cross…” or “I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” These verses confuse and puzzle me. I don’t think they mean what they seem to mean to me on the surface, and yet I am leery of interpretations that go below surfaces — there is the possibility of twisting and distorting.

    So the issue of how faith integrates with therapy is sort of central to what my main issue is, and I don’t have enough trust in my own intuition, intelligence, knowledge, faith, or whatever, to be comfortable doing all the integration myself.

  4. I can understand your issue with faith and therapists – for me I needed a Christian therapist when it came to issues like hate, forgiveness (blech – dislike that word), honoring parents, etc. But I needed a Christian therapist that truly understood the difficulty survivors face with those issues.

    I hope that you will find a way to integrate the two yourself – or if not, that you’ll be led to another therapist or person that can help you.

  5. I too can understand the difficulty with therapy and faith. My faith dictates how I live my life~it’s the how and why I do things. Someone who doesn’t understand could make suggestions that won’t work for me due to that. (((((Marcy)))))

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