How Therapy Can Transform: A Personal Testimonial

white flower on leafMy experience with therapy began about three and a half years ago. Two years before that I began experiencing episodes of rage over the smallest frustrations. I was also just entering a major life crisis. A personal friendship of 25 years ended and I left a church after 25 years of involvement, because of control and emotional abuse issues. It was a very frightening and confusing time.

Soon after, I participated in an art therapy workshop, where we created our own “story catcher”. Frustration and feelings of inadequacy seemed to loom large and I found myself in tears during the six weeks of the workshop. Despite the vulnerability I was experiencing, I continued to show up.

In spite of the stigma that I experienced, my motive to begin therapy grew out of interest and eventually to one of need. I had a desire to understand myself better and in lieu of the frustrations experienced in the art therapy workshop, I felt that it would be good to talk to someone.

My episodes with rage were intensifying and the recent changes in my life left me vulnerable and afraid. I made an appointment with the art therapist stating that I would just like to explore my childhood. As well, the stress of life had reached an overflow and was seriously affecting my ability to cope with work and study.

The decision to begin therapy has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Therapy has proven to be a lifeline. It has provided a much-needed path to share and understand my story. It has become a sanctuary where I can speak my story freely without judgment.

As issues surfaced, my therapist helped me revisit and safely experience areas of my childhood and adult life that had been overwhelming. I realized that I had a safe and secure place in which to walk through traumatic areas of my life.

Life events that I never had a chance to talk about, nor deal with as a young child, could finally have a safe place of expression. Years of repressed emotions and abuse finally found a voice. I now know that my emotions are a very important aspect of my life and it is OK to feel, express, and explore them. Therapy has given me a safe and secure environment to do so.

Stress has also been a huge factor in my life. Recently, there was an aspect of my job that I had to discontinue due to the stress it was causing. Therapy continues to offer significant strategies that help me understand and manage the impact that stress has on my life. I am developing the confidence and ability to manage stress and can handle aspects of work that once were debilitating.

Of course, I do have one of the best therapists there is. She has guided me ever so gently and lovingly through some rough terrain. One of the greatest benefits that I have received through therapy is the gift of awareness. I can give myself permission to be aware of what is happening in my world and to then take the appropriate action that I need to.

I am developing skills to monitor myself daily and, when necessary, hourly, so that I am in control and not hindered by the emotions I experience. Anthony De Mello said, “What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you.”

My journey into therapy has been most rewarding. I continue to experience healing and well-being. It has given me a great sense of strength and security and I feel that I am the one who is now in control of my life. I just needed to be able to tell my story. Therapy provided an experienced companion to travel with me.

As a result of this extremely positive adventure into the world of therapy, I am presently completing a certificate in Initiatic Art Therapy, as well as a graduate degree in social science and counselling. I am interested in research and writing in the area of psychology and spirituality.

 

Rhonda Ransford lives and studies in Brisbane, Australia.

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  • Tara

    Tara

    March 24th, 2014 at 3:43 AM

    This is huge, finding that dafe place where you can feel free to be who you are without any anxiety and judgement. This si what therapy is supposed to be all about and it sounds as if this writer has found this in her own experience.

  • Jake r

    Jake r

    March 24th, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    obviously this is a real gift for many people but only for those who are willing to accept it for what it is. there are many people who are not willing to use this as a time to grow but rather as a time to continue to harp upon the things that hve not worked for them in the past. what good is reliving the past over and over again? when it hasn’t worked once then chances are it won’t again so why not use the time in therapy to find out why this isn’t working for you and deevelop a brand new life plan for yourself? is it because that seems too hard? too scary? all of those things and more? probably so. but it sure beats reliving the same mistakes time and again and never having any real progression in your life.

  • Sienna

    Sienna

    March 24th, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Sometimes when your life feels the most out of control, that’s when you will be the most open to change and having something new help.

  • Blaine

    Blaine

    March 25th, 2014 at 3:50 AM

    There may always be some hesitation there to share your most sacred inner thoughts and feelings, and you must find someone with whom you feel the most comfortable sharing all of those things and whom you think can best help you process them once you have.

  • marcia sims

    marcia sims

    March 25th, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Feeling frustrated at every small little thing can be a red flag that there is actually something very big going on that you need to attend to.

    You could choose to deal with this is a couple of different ways but therapy would actually be a great place to start for many of us.

    You might not even know what is causing the anger or why you are feeling the way that you do but this could be a good way that you can sit down with someone who will know how to help you get to the root of what is actually troubling you.

  • Sal

    Sal

    March 26th, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Therapy CAN be a game changer in life IF you let it be that for you.

  • dlt

    dlt

    March 27th, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    I wish more people would admit they went to therapy and it’s a NORMAL thing! Thanks

  • brannon

    brannon

    March 27th, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    I agree with dlt.
    Life would be so much easier if more people admitted that they went to therapy instead of dissing it and acting like they were too good for it.

    There is nothing wrong with it, what is wrong with it is lying about it.

  • Bubba

    Bubba

    March 28th, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    In general would you say that most people benefit from one stint of therapy or is this something that most are going to need over the course of many years, or maybe even periodically over their lifetimes?
    I can’t imagine having to commit so much time and effort into this over the course of my whole life but I suppose that there are those people who find this to be their life line and have to hang on to this to keep their sanity.
    I would love to have a random sampling from readers or contributors on the site just to know what the norm seems to be.

  • KGS

    KGS

    March 29th, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    I don’t think that most of us give therapy nearly the value that we should because most of us are not even knowledgeable about just how much wwe could learn about ourselves if we undertook this for ourselves. It can be such a valuable way to get to know who we are and not only how we see us but also how others view us too… if we had some control over that think about how much better we would fare in our everyday lives as well as our personal relationships!

  • Brawley

    Brawley

    March 30th, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    Can I be honest by saying that I have been scared of going into therapy because it scares me? Finding out too much about myself and my own little inner demons? What good will do this do me, or those are the things I am forever asking myself when I try to talk myself out of going. I am scared, there I said it.

  • Mary S

    Mary S

    March 30th, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Rhonda is very lucky that she found a good therapist who offered a safe place and helped her. Not all of us are so fortunate — my experience with therapy was quite different. Therapy was not a safe place; it did not address the problems I went to therapy to work on; it often seemed like a crazy place, where most of what the therapist said didn’t make sense. Informed consent was the exception rather than the rule. When I tried asking questions, to try to understand what the therapist was doing, I either got a change of subject, or a refusal (e.g., “I have my reasons,” or “Do you realize that you are asking me to give up my control?”), or a reply that didn’t make sense. Often it seemed like being plunked down in a foreign culture, and being reprimanded when I didn’t know the customs of the culture, and even reprimanded when I asked what they were. I tried several therapists, but each time got a version of the above. Therapy has been an experience that has required a long time to recover from, and I still have not completely recovered after more than 25 years since I first tried it — I still have intrusive and obsessive thoughts about therapists (though thankfully the intrusive visual thoughts have abated considerably — that might have something to do with the fact that I haven’t tried therapy for several years now). These thoughts are often accompanied by the feelings of distress that I experienced in therapy. They often interfere with sleep and with normal activities. But I have survived; I have somehow managed to live a life with many good aspects to it, despite the recurring thoughts of therapy. I am truly fortunate that I had a rewarding (although stressful) job and a loving partner. I feel so sorry for people who had therapy experiences like mine but did not have the resources I had.

  • Val O'Dea

    Val O'Dea

    April 24th, 2014 at 4:11 AM

    There are a lot of good people out there doing great work. I like to think I am one of them. I offer counselling for many different problems and phobias.

  • Teena

    Teena

    August 8th, 2017 at 3:16 PM

    Life can be a bit traumatic when it seems that drama or trauma is what is attracted to you. But having that safe, sane, and informed person to go to is a great way to spend time.

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