I Don’t Treat “Patients”...

I Don’t Treat “Patients”

It’s true that I’ve been practicing psychotherapy for years, but I have never, ever seen a patient. It’s just not how I view the people who come to me for help. They aren’t sick with a disease that I can cure; I’m not the holder of all wisdom who can diagnose, treat, and send them on their way. To be sure, people don’t seek me out just because they want to have a nice chat over a cup of tea. There is something that is truly bothering them. And no doubt they’ve got the odd neurosis or two.

But don’t we all? And that’s the point.

I’m the one who has studied deeply and developed therapeutic skills, but we are in this together. I don’t exist on the healthy totally tic-free side of the fence while the non-therapists suffer away on the other. In fact, it is my own pain that gives me the empathy required to do this work well.

I know firsthand how wounds from long ago, even ones that we can barely remember, affect how we respond to all kinds of situations in our lives and shape the way we relate to our partners. The traumas and struggles of my childhood compelled me to seek out a way to emerge from their hold and to strive to help others do the same. My life’s work has taught me how to become my own wounded healer.

This is an ancient idea that remains totally relevant, as all the best ones do. It probably began with the legend of Asclepius. He was a Greek doctor who was cut out of his mother’s womb as she was about to die. Talk about an early wound! Jung worked a lot with this idea as well. He realized that the therapist must always be examining himself, and keeping aware of his own wounded parts, because he can only heal in another what he is able to heal in himself.

So, my therapy involves conveying how to become a wounded healer of yourself. We master this because the work of healing never stops. We will be striving to know and love those parts of ourselves that have been abandoned, neglected, abused, whatever it is—all our lives, consciously or otherwise. And if we can take the risk of revealing those wounds to our partners, we give them a chance to love that aspect of us too. Otherwise, how can our partner truly know us?

Now you can see what I mean. We are all in the continual process of healing. That’s why there are no patients in my office, only fellow human beings doing the best they can, just like me.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this please share it! It would mean a lot to me. 🙂

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Figs is the creator of the Empathi method and the certification process for Empathi coaches. He’s also Chief Empathi Officer, husband, dad, wounded-healer and was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered as a champion for healthy relationships. Figs’ life’s mission is to help couples feel more connected.

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