It is a pleasure to introduce myself in this forum, a society that embraces art and explores the archetypal landscape of our inner lives. I am honored and also challenged by the task of explaining who I am in a few paragraphs.
Do I state that my specialty is in addiction and recovery, highlighting that I share Jung's view that addiction is a
"spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness"
Shall I discuss how Jung's concepts of
personality numbers one and two
are instrumental in helping my clients understand their split self that is rooted in early trauma and ongoing addictive behaviors?
Perhaps I could share that I encourage my clients to honor their shadow and have compassion for
sides of their personality, for I see that as the only way towards wholeness.
Or maybe I will opt for playfulness in true Jungian fashion and show you all my tattoo. After all, I do lovingly refer to it as
my therapy tattoo.
I got it about 5 years ago, while I was doing work with the Jail Diversion Outreach Team and meeting many clients (mostly addicts), most with a LOT of tattoos. It was at once a rapport-building tool. "Let me see your ink" they'd say towards the end of their assessment. "Oh sure, this is my therapy tattoo" and I would go on to describe the metaphor of the
dolls, or Russian nesting dolls. "The work I do is a lot like playing with these dolls; have you ever played with them?" and all of a sudden I see a wide grin as they share how they used to play with one at their grandmother's house or maybe that their aunt collected them in her travels.
I ask if they would ever just pull one or two dolls out and leave the rest untouched, covering the bottom half of my tattoo with my hand. The client will shake their head, "no way!" and I then gently prepare them for the length and depth of the therapeutic process. Therapy, I explain, is about uncovering ALL of the layers; peeling them back one by one and noticing the patterns, as well as the subtle differences, that exist throughout. Getting to the core is essential and, as I point to the tiniest doll on the inside of my wrist, I cringe, "trust me, that little sucker hurt the most!" I invite them to understand that what may seem like a small thing to an outsider may be very painful indeed.
After an intentional pause to hold space for the small pain they may have just identified, I share that the work I do tends to be playful. It is my curiosity for the tremendous stories of each person I meet that kept me engaged with this work, even when the work grows serious and heavy, as it sometimes will. "Together we create movement and don't you think moving feels far easier when the load is light?" I offer that many folks view therapy as dark, drudgerous work, but my style is to explore "how can we make this easy?" and always keep it moving. I explain that investigating what is inside that next layer, staying curious and ever-inquisitive, while not getting bogged down by judgement is the first step. "Just observe for now, like you're opening up that next doll. What do you see?"
And just like that, my darling archetypal dolls have provided an opportunity for rapport-building, story-telling, normalizing emotional pain, exploring the therapeutic landscape, challenging old collective concepts and even offering an assignment for the week, all in a most unthreatening and playful way.
That is the work that I do. This is who I am. I am equal parts delighted and deeply honored to walk the path of transformation with the individuals who come to my office. I
love working with addicts, as well as the anxious and depressed, the manic, the grieving and those who have