Where do you go when you’re “done” with therapy?
You’ve been to therapy before, learned all the skills. You know how to ground yourself in the moment and breathe. You’re aware of your automatic thoughts and can tell the difference between facts and less rational thoughts. Something still seems to be missing. You want to go deeper.
Developing a greater understanding of yourself and your subconscious may be the key to unlocking your potential. Knowing what to do when your mind becomes anxious is great, but understanding why is better. You don’t want to just “deal” with the negative thoughts; you want to understand where they come from.
You’ve come to the right place.
Most Therapists Aren’t Trained in Depth Psychology
If you’ve ever been to therapy and one day your therapist looks at you and says, “I think we’re done here…” you’re not alone. As therapists, we are ethically bound not to overtreat our clients. What this means is we are supposed to conclude therapy when we believe the client is no longer receiving benefits from it. It’s the therapy version of “I’ve taught you all I can. Now fly!”
Except some of us don’t think we’re truly ready to fly or even what that’s supposed to mean. Does it mean that I’m cured? Does it mean that I have all the tools I need to never feel anxious or depressed again? If I do feel bad again, does that mean that I failed or that there is something wrong with me?
What do we do when we don’t feel like we’re “done”?
Now, not all therapists are like this, but many of them are. Many therapists who say they provide CBT, for example, believe their job is done once their client has learned all the skills. (Personally, I believe this is due to inadequate training, but that’s a soapbox for another time.)
The question is: Where do you go when you’re “done” with therapy? There are many possible answers to that question, but perhaps for you, the answer lies in depth psychotherapy.
What is Depth Psychology?
Depth psychology, or depth psychotherapy, brings the messages from our unconscious and subconscious mind to the surface. It’s the process of examining these messages and discovering their meaning.
Depth psychology is the exploration of what drives our behavior by examining unconscious archetypal patterns. These patterns can affect us as trauma and can be the result of multi-generational complexes.
Exploring the Subconscious through Depth Psychology
First, I want to say that I’m not bashing CBT; it certainly has been helpful to countless people. I use it often for skill building with my clients when it is appropriate. Also, CBT can go deep, exploring the subconscious and the beliefs that we hold about ourselves, others, and the world. That being said, most therapists who say they do CBT focus on the skills and ignore the unconscious depths.
There is so much going on below the surface- outside our conscious awareness. That’s why I believe studies are now showing that, while effective in the short term, the effects of CBT may begin to fade over time. Depth psychotherapy, on the other hand, has been shown to have long-lasting effects for clients especially healing early childhood trauma.
Think of it like this: you dislocate your shoulder. The first thing you’d do to recover is getting it put back into place and have your arm in a sling. This helps to alleviate pain in the short term and begin the healing process. After that, you’d move onto physical therapy where you would work to address the underlying issues causing pain, build strength, and eventually return to full mobility.
Would you be okay without physical therapy? Sure. You might occasionally experience stiffness and pain, never returning to 100%, but you’d manage. CBT is kinda like that. It addresses the pain you feel in the moment, but its effectiveness may decline over time. Depth psychology is more like physical therapy in this example. It may be uncomfortable at times and may take a while to see results, but the results will be long-lasting.
Depth Work and Dream Interpretation
Through the creation and exploration of symbol sets, we can begin to decipher the messages we receive through our dreams. There is no one-size-fits-all definition to our dreams. The messages are far too personal for them to be captured through something general like a dream dictionary.
By reflecting upon the content of our dreams and the effect they have upon us, we can begin to bring these messages front and center. There, we discover the meaning of our dreams and obtain insight into what drives us (or how complexes, trauma, and behavior patterns may be getting in the way).
What are dreams if not messages directly from our unconscious? When we better understand them, we better understand ourselves. This is why people have reoccuring dreams. Your unconscious is begging you to integrate a lesson!
Art Therapy as Depth Psychotherapy
Art therapy is about exploring the meaning and symbols in what we create. The creation of art allows us to break through the surface and explore our deepest depths. Engaging in creative activity is like dreaming with our eyes open.
It connects us with those deeper parts of ourselves- the unconscious and the subconscious. It forms a path between what is known and what is not yet known. Put simply, art can put a spotlight on the things that drive us. It can help us to answer the question: Who am I? That is the power of depth work through art.
I’m Maggi, an Art Psychotherapist in Columbus
The clients I do my best work with are the ones looking to dive deep within themselves.
They have a longing to know themselves better.
Together with my clients, I help them explore the various realms in which their unconscious resides.
Through a combination of dream interpretation and art therapy, my clients achieve insight into their unconscious world.
If you’re ready to explore your passions, motives, impulses, insecurities, defenses, and your projections onto others- both positive and negative- schedule a call. I’d love to work with you.
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What if I’ve never been to therapy before?
“You talk about depth psychology as the next step after traditional therapy, but what if I’ve never been to therapy before? Is depth work right for me?”
Short answer: yes. While I do talk about depth psychology as the next phase of therapy after doing some foundational work, I can help you with that as well. If you’ve never been in therapy before, I will help you build the skills you need to dive further.
No one plunges into the depths of the ocean without first knowing how to use SCUBA gear. The same is true for depth psychotherapy. We will first work to establish some appropriate ways to help you when/if you feel overwhelmed. This could be through some breathing exercises, meditation, or other grounding techniques. Once you feel confident in your ability to deal with distress, we can begin wading in. This is always at your pace and when you are ready. I am always assessing your comfort. This is one of the beauties of depth psychotherapy. I am not following a strict protocol or worksheet. Life is not a fill-in-the-blank; your psyche isn’t either. I try to attune to your needs and comfort level as you are ready for each step.
Is Depth Psychotherapy really better than CBT?
It’s really not a matter of which one is better or worse than the other as both serve a function. If you are in constant distress or in a depressive episode, CBT and/or medication may be the first step to helping you find relief.
If you are ready to dive deeper into your subconscious and develop a greater sense of awareness and fulfillment, depth psychotherapy may be a good fit for you.
How long does depth work take?
The answer, of course, is it varies. True depth work is never-ending and many clients find benefit in either continued work or revisiting it over the course of many years. As much as we know, there is so much that we do not yet understand- the unconscious mind is just one part of that mystery.
Most clients will work with me for a minimum of weekly sessions for 3 to 6 months. After that, they may choose to continue with ongoing work to enhance their lives. I will work with you to determine what fits best for you.
How do I get started with depth therapy in Columbus?
Getting started is easy. The first step is to schedule your free initial consultation. During this conversation, we will explore your goals for therapy, give you the opportunity to ask questions, and determine if working with me is a great fit. If we both believe I can help you, we will then schedule your intake session.
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