“Remember: It’s a relationship.”
I stared gratefully at my supervisor as she spoke calm truth into my anxiety. I was about to meet with my first ever therapy client when I had come to the untimely conclusion: I knew nothing.
With her words orienting me, I took a deep, fortifying breath, and I began this journey of life as a therapist. In those moments with my first clients, it felt new, and powerful, and terrifying, all at once. Yet, my supervisor’s words were a compass, pointing the way with every new client:
Therapy is a relationship.
It doesn’t sound like much. But it’s everything.
Because we are broken in relationships.
We are wounded in relationships.
We are disappointed in relationships.
We are shamed in relationships.
We are lonely in relationships.
Therapy is a relationship, too, but a healing one. It is bearing witness to someone’s story. It’s entering into the messiness and pain. It’s being present. It’s grace giving and getting, and truth seeking and hearing. It’s honoring the moments… from the ordinary to extraordinary, from the dark to the light. It’s an invitation into vulnerability that vanquishes shame in its wake.
Therapy is where healing can happen because it’s in relationship, not in fixing, that our truths can be known and understood… Because it’s in relationship that we realize we are a little less alone and a little more normal than we thought. Because it’s in relationship that we realize that even if we aren’t “normal,” we are still cherished.
Several years after my first therapy client, I said my goodbyes to my final supervisor before entering the next leg of my journey, as a doctor with new letters behind my name. I hugged her tightly and whispered softly in her ear, “What if I don’t know anything?” She smiled calmly with a slight twinkle in her eye, knowing I already knew the answer. Nevertheless, she answered me anyway, with the same words spoken to me years before:
“Remember: It’s a relationship.”
In that moment, my training had come full circle. The journey began with relationship, and it ended with relationship. Our wounds work that way, too. They are opened in relationships, and, later, they meet grace and healing in relationships. Let’s all remember that.
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