What is the process of humanistic integrative therapy like?
In the first therapy session, often clients aren’t very sure of what they are going to encounter in their therapy process. They want to know how their journey in therapy will evolve. This is normal if you haven’t done anything similar in your life before, and it can stir all types of worries and doubts relating to the process.
We talk a lot about the ‘process’, but it really is the perfect word to describe the time a person spends in therapy. The objective is to achieve enough robust autonomy to live your life fully and healthily, and to be able to live in the present. The process can last a few weeks for one person, but years for another. Each process is different, because we are all different, and we all have different experiences. You decide when you’re ready to end your process.
To help explain what the process is like, we often use a metaphor to make it clearer. We talk about a journey which begins in the foothills of a mountain, and which gradually climbs the mountain, before ending at the peak. You are accompanied on the journey by the therapist, who supports you every step of the way. Sometimes they throw you a rope while you learn to climb certain parts, and they bear your weight if you fall, so that they can then comfort you. At other times you both stop to rest, to fight against a bear, or you find a flat path so you can move ahead more quickly.
You don’t know what you’re going to find at the top of the mountain and throughout the journey you ask yourself what it will be like and how it will affect you when you get there. The day that you get there, you can see the view on the other side of the mountain, but it doesn’t surprise you in the slightest. You know that you can find the way to continue your journey and get down the mountain alone, without your therapist accompanying you. You’ve already realised what you need and the tools you now have to cope with the challenges life will throw at you. You give your therapist a big hug, and you embark on your new adventure with your self-esteem and autonomy in excellent shape.
My own experience of therapy was a beautiful journey up a very high mountain! I can’t undo my past, but now I have the resources to deal with the problems that may come my way and to help me live a full life in the present.