Therapy as a Modern Rite of Passage – Part 2

 Click here for Part 1 of Therapy as a Modern Rite of Passage

“You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens. Just wait for the birth, for the hour of the new clarity.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Therapy, like other Rites of Passage involves four important elements:

  1. Right Timing
  2. Intention
  3. Witnessing
  4. Movement

1. Right Timing: The purpose of a ceremony is not for something to occur, but to recognize what is already happening. A ceremony creates a meaningful context within which the event can then happen. Most rites of passage are a confirmation of an initiation, or allow an individual to mark a phase of life, a moment they are currently present in.

Therapy often seeks to bring us into the present moment, to reconcile the past, and acknowledge the transformation that has already taken place and continues to do so. A client may have been initiated by a very difficult circumstance that has left them deeply wounded and vulnerable, and yet, it is in this present moment that the healing can occur. Like all ceremonies, therapy too relies on the right timing, the need to meet the client where they are at, to honor their reality and allow them to mark an important event or phase of their life that has changed them.

2. Intention: Ceremonies are held to mark an occurrence that is deemed worthy of acknowledgment. It may be a ceremony of severance, or one of threshold (marking an in-between stage), or one to mark a new beginning. The ceremony typically comprises symbols of the elements or actions that mark the intention specific to the occasion. Cultural and personal symbols may be used to signify the purpose of the ceremony.

In the therapeutic context, the goal-setting stage marks the severance or the new beginning. Although the therapeutic modality and theoretical framework may differ, the intention of acknowledging that which the client deems worthy, marks the ceremonial aspect of therapy.

3. Witness: Traditionally, families and tribes, communities and like minded individuals have often come together to witness the ceremony. There may be a specific family member, community elder, or minister who is called upon to play a significant role in the ceremony. However, all who are present are invited to play an important role in witnessing the ceremony and creating the meaningful context for the event to unfold in.

The witnessing aspect of therapy is well-documented to be an essential part of the transformation. It is an honor for me to bear witness to your journey of transformation.

4. Movement: The ceremony must include a meaningful movement or progression. In other words, the ceremony must have a sense of direction or unfolding to indicate the forward journey of the individual or individuals who are participating in it.

As therapists and clients will often acknowledge, therapy is a process with meaningful movement and the intent is for the client to experience success in accomplishing their stated goals.

If you find yourself at a crossroads and are hesitant to consider therapy, think of it as a modern rite of passage, an initiation into the next, more fulfilling phase of your journey. And when you are ready to cross the threshold, go ahead and make the call.

2 thoughts on “Therapy as a Modern Rite of Passage – Part 2

  1. Timing is everything. I am much benefitted to have had therapy at the right time. The circumstances were appropriate, the therapist was just right and my timing helped me to get full benefit of therapy. I should indeed thank you for suggesting and prompting to opt for therapy, though you were not my therapist. Thanks for the right timing.

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