A Self-Emancipatory Agenda

The ultimate goal of a good insight-oriented psychotherapy process is self-emancipation.  In the context of a solid relationship with a therapist, who is an advocate, a witness, and an empathic and engaged listener, we come to understand the obstacles, habits, and patterns that prevent us from creating our optimal life in a straightforward way. Creating a life is a lot like creating any work of art. We have a certain vision. That is, we know what is important to us, even when we do not know precisely how it will unfold in our lives.

We know that we are building something and moving in a direction, even if that building and moving is simply a process of looking for what will make our lives meaningful. We work at building in ways that we can see, and we design our lives using the tools we have available. But there are sometimes tools we do not know about or blind spots in our vision. It takes another mind to reflect to us the parts of our lives that we do not see clearly ourselves.

It is not that a therapist knows more than we do or can implant foreign ideas and values into our lives. It is that a caring person, who has set aside her own agendas, can sometimes point out to us contradictions and gaps that we do not see ourselves. Within that dialogue we may come to see and understand truths about ourselves that, once articulated, become visible and manageable.

We are complex creatures with multiple motives and limitations. To the extent that we can come to understand ourselves in a reflective and mutualized way, we are freed up to make choices about our lives that are based in the reality of who we are rather than the partial awareness that we may have in isolation.

Life is fundamentally organizing and developmental. It is the antithesis of the positive entropy–that is, the decay and disintegration–of nonliving matter. Life is creative and growth-oriented. As we learn, through life experience, personal reflection, and relationship experience, we become more and more able to grow toward the most authentic expression of who we are. This urge toward growth, which is common to natural, living things, underlies our wish to create ourselves. The freedom that comes with increasing self-knowledge and genuine choice based in our wishes to care for ourselves and the people around us, is therefore gratifying at a deep, existential level because it is a natural part of who we are.

About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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2 Responses to A Self-Emancipatory Agenda

  1. Margaret says:

    Nora…this entry is beautiful. Eloquent and deep, de-mystifying therapy’s magic and allure enough to help the suspicious relax. Simply lovely.

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