When people seek psychotherapy, they have generally decided that something in their lives needs to change. Therapies in general are change processes. Change, of course, is inevitable. The inanimate world degenerates and disorganizes over time. One of the qualities of living organisms is that they create organization and growth. So there is always a dynamic relationship between building up and tearing down. Things are always changing.
As we move through our lives, we grow and learn. We become better at some things and smarter at predicting what will happen. The subtle choices we make in response to this dynamic process create us as we go along. Although many people view psychotherapy as solving problems, when it goes well, it is much more than that. Good psychotherapy can form an ongoing input that corrects and accelerates the natural processes of growth and learning.
Instead of merely repairing broken places, good psychotherapy can provide a reflective context for choices that will, in small ways, create a path where those places do not get broken in the first place. As we continue to grow and learn, we slowly integrate the different parts of ourselves, our experiences, our own unique wisdom, our private, personal inner selves with our public, social, outer selves. This process of integrating fulfills a natural developmental organic process.
Although self-integration is nebulous, implicit, and difficult to articulate, we can feel when it is happening. This type of development takes a great deal of time, even though psychotherapy facilitates its movement. Perhaps it can be described as an experience of calmness in which all the parts of oneself can be included and contained, compassionately understood, and engaged in full participation with life both inside and outside of us.