The Process of Growth and Healing

Matt Fernandez, RHMI, MA on Mar 09, 2023 in Treatment Orientation

The philosophy I carry with me into every session with my clients is to identify the capabilities within them that need nurturing. I embraced this perspective from listening to the song "Surf" by the fantastic artist Mac Miller. In the song, he shares this wisdom: "There's water in the flowers, let's grow." Mac Miller outlines this outlook quite often in his music. Thanks to Mac Miller, seeds into flowers have become the lenses I see myself and those around me. That imagery is soothing and empowering to me. As a result, I have translated that philosophy into my therapy for my clients.

Carl Rogers expressed that, given the proper conditions, individuals have the capacity to transform from within. This is also true for flowers, as flowers need a suitable environment for growth. However, like flowers, clients do not just sprout into fully healthy and happy individuals because they are placed in the correct climate. The growth process must be nurtured consistently to ensure the flower reaches its highest self.

A Seed in the Soil

Each person presents with a unique background that they have been planted in from birth. Unfortunately, we do not have the power to choose the family and circumstances in which we are born. However, once we can step into a place of autonomy, we can start to claim what we want and do not want. Many of us, if not all, choose from what we know from the generational knowledge and trauma passed on to us. Suddenly, we find ourselves as a seed in a limited space. We are stifled in the soil of pain and sorrow that has been passed over and over.

On the other hand, some of us are exposed to revelations that put us in the position to reshape the status quo of our family's curse(s). Those of you in this situation face the challenges of the unknown future expectations to set for generations while combatting those that came before you — a seed that has been picked up by another force and dropped into a new soil, unfamiliar to the genetic disposition ingrained from the start.

Where do we go from here? Forever stuck in the soil we have ended up in? That depends on the perspective you wish to express. However, I would challenge you to consider if the environment you find yourself in defines your entire existence from start to finish. You are a seed in need of water to survive. Thankfully, since you are reading this blog post, you have managed to find a source(s) of water that has grown you to this point. No matter how you define the soil you have entered up to this point, the water has filled you with endless experiences.

A Sprouting Seed

Flowers have a remarkable desire to reach the light. When I first meet my clients, I quickly notice they are stuck in a dark room. Distress has an impressive ability to disrupt our capacity to be aware of our surroundings. They have come in as a seed that has begun to sprout because of the nourishment they have received so far. However, that seed now strives to touch the warmth of the light. They want to push through the soil they are stuck in to become exquisite flowers.

As their therapist, this is the part of the process where I find myself entering their journey. My responsibility as a therapist is to stimulate clients to build awareness of their environment, primarily through psychoeducation. Knowledge is so empowering for clients! I visualize the early therapy process of sharing that psychoeducational knowledge as providing healing water to the seed. Still, that seed must start moving toward that light quickly. The light, in this case, is the client's most desired self.

Finding the direction of the light is extremely difficult when the environment around the seed is completely dark. Of course, it would be easy for therapists to grab and hold the sprouting seed to the light. But what does the client get from that other than a harsh disconnection from the roots ingrained into their soil? Even if the ground the client is located in isn't the healthiest, we have no right to take that away from them. Whether we approve of it or not, we must accept that our clients have their lives interwoven into the soil their seed is sprouting.

A Flower Blossoms

I like to tell my clients, "You don't know you are in a dark room until you know you are in a dark room." Remember: Most, if not all, of our clients only have the limited knowledge that has been granted to them from the ones who came before them. As their therapist, I have to find ways to integrate psychoeducational knowledge with their life experience knowledge. Sometimes these two conflict, which can make the client feel defeated. However, as therapists, we can use these moments as opportunities to encourage our clients to challenge their belief systems and adopt a more pleasant one.

Eventually, as the therapeutic journey continues, the seed sees the light start to crack through. We now have a direction to head together in therapy! Like sprouting seeds, we all have an innate desire to survive and thrive. Now as the therapist, I transition from psychoeducation to empowerment. The growing seed has the water it needs inside at this point. It is time to empower the client to identify that they can make the desired transformations.

This part of the process is highly honoring because you have the opportunity to see the growth of something so beautiful. The client, at this point, has the tools and skills to start taking significant steps in their growth journey. Eventually, as this process continues, the client will lean further into growing and healing into their most authentic, happiest version.

In conclusion, this perspective on therapy has allowed me to recognize that it is not me, the therapist, who does the healing and fixing up on my clients. The clients work to heal the parts of their lives that have not been nurtured enough to thrive. However, there are times when the seed has been struggling under uncertainty and despair. As a therapist, all I bring is a watering can filled with healthy water and a willingness to work alongside a seed blossoming into a captivating flower.

Matt Fernandez is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern in Winter Park, FL.

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