"Unconditional positive regard"- as a newly licensed therapist I clung to the philosophy of Carl Rogers to assuage my doubts as to whether therapy really was effective. I grew up in the age when therapy was labeled "psychobabble", therapists were shrinks, spirituality was relegated to rebellious, stoned hippies and the life of emotions was a hinderance to the rational, evidence based certainty of "reality". Stereotypes have grains of truth and I was a believer.
Throughout human history, there have been "therapists": philosophers, rabbis, priests, shamans, monks, places in nature, animals and teachers whose training and innate gifts draw us into a safe, reflective space of self awareness. The examined life is rich and rewarding, even if filled with pain. Human nature predisposes us to benefit from therapy: we are relieved of anxiety when we can make meaning out of chaos, lemonade out of lemons. The prefrontal cortex thickens when we meditate, the central nervous system relaxes when we integrate the events of our lives, especially traumatic ones, into a coherent and meaningful narrative. Therapy works because it has evolved from the need to be heard and understood in an ever changing environment.
Therapy works because it tames the mind and in so doing, heals the brain. The human spirit is resilient in that it can adapt to the unique challenges of each relationship, stage of life, each loss and grief if allowed to process in the presence of an attuned, safe, trusted and trained therapist whose intention is to focus on and tend to the unique needs of her client. In such a relationship, people find guidance, solutions, clarity, purpose, peace and spiritual depth. Therapy is an experience whose outcome has the potential to be deeply rewarding, and that is why it works. I came from a place of doubt, however my clients have taught me the true meaning and power of the therapeutic relationship. It does not shrink, but expands, it does not babble it articulates, and it is realer than anything tangible to the senses.