Trying to fix things

It’s tempting to think everything can be fixed, that we have an answer for everything.  Therapists can be particularly prone to feel this is how we ought to be: we ought to be able to fix something, to be ‘successful’ as a therapist. Here is Eugene Gendlin talking:

One client, who had an abusive experience as a child, could imagine no way she could ever heal, except to make it ‘unhappen’. Eventually she said she would have been all right in those years if there had been someone to talk to about it. Nothing could have made it unhappen, of course, but she and the person could have “sat on a log together”.  I am here in such a way that a client can sit on a log with me. 

This means that we do not need to have an answer to the client’s stuck places. Sometimes there are real answers. However, usually we [the therapists] have answers because we have not yet understood the problem. When we reach the stage where we have no answer either, then we have really understood.

Sometimes I offer answers…I know so many procedures. I am never without something further that we can try. But we can try it later. We must not miss the real and thick process that happens in those moments when the client and I sit on a log.

In our society, people find it hard to sit together in silence. If I think the silence makes the client uncomfortable, I might say, “here we are, you and I, and for the moment we don’t have a way with this.”

Such statements indicate that we need not hunt desperately for something to say…In words or, more usually, in silence I indicate that our being together is something real that we are doing, even if there is nothing to say.

Answers come from outside. Healing comes from within. If I can be there with you in that ‘within’ place of yours, you are more likely to find healing for yourself – but you are not alone while you find it.