I was listening to a therapy training yesterday regarding clients stuck in marital crossroads. It stirred in me so many things I see in myself and most clients when facing our ambivalence and in all the ways it shows up—no matter if the situation feels heartbreaking or exhilarating.
This teacher, who emphasizes the intense and fast work necessary to bring the ambivalence to a head at such a tender time, reminded me of why I have continued to adapt my work and my dedication to meeting the clients where they need to be met.
There is a level of intensity I work with when burnout and high-achievers are in the mix. It comes from my years of experience creatively working to adapt intuitively and quickly with clients grappling with eating disorders. For me, my work doesn’t seem to fit under the umbrella of nurse practitioner, psychotherapist, coach, nor consultant. I have long called myself a midwife to your story and a modern-day medicine woman.
Though this isn’t really about my title.
This struggle over my title used to frustrate me. I judged myself as being too particular and opinionated. Too unsatisfied with what was out there and in need of just settling down into the role of psychotherapist. But then I started to celebrate the fact that my own ambivalence with these titles and what they represented to me is part of what helps me be an excellent guide.
The high-achieving, gifted and sensitive clients I work with also want to forge their own unique path while simultaneously fearing the illogical, yet powerful, thought that to do so means they must let go of their accomplishments in their traditional field. Fears of being left with nothing in their inevitable search, but unable to move forward in their current career. Listless and restless, wired and tired. They often have significant questioning of their identity and their prior choices. This is often accompanied with deep grief. The more steeped in the culture of your career, typically the harder this path.
I had a lot of unpacking to do around celebrating the beautiful traditions of my amazing psychotherapy career. It is a discipline I deeply believe in as essential to human healing. Yet I also saw my limitations of staying in a chosen path formed by others.
So what was it about this divorce training that moved me to come in today and share with you?
He spoke of couples on the brink of divorce and the emergent crisis that occurs for both partners. The “ambivalent” one and the “committed” one are both showing up for what in all reality is a last-ditch effort. These are clients that are actively discussing divorce, not people keeping the idea from themselves or their partner. As in most crises, they are both fleeing from pain and yet unconsciously creating more pain with their behaviors. He referenced this experience as a crucible.
Boom—he was speaking my language.
A crucible can be defined as “a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity.”
When you take the time to attain wisdom with complexity and nuance vs. believing wholesale in your current narrative, it becomes easy to see these significant life events as crucibles. And this is why societal and cultural trends and interpretations don’t always serve us. A divorce, even when unwanted or desired, can be either heart-opening or crushing depending on your perspective. So too can any significant life event. For they demand change and risk your attachment to an identity. These can be even more excruciating when you alone are both the ambivalent and committed one. A war in your own mind and body.
Or a doorway to more.
For me, my favorite work is the crucible. It’s why I have this as a custom offering for my clients at both personal and professional crossroads. They have done the essential work in traditional therapy and are ready to experience more intense support as they discern “Who am I really? And more importantly, what will I do about it?”
They have come to a point in their individual lives that their successful path doesn’t meet their soul standards. They want more than the accomplishments, titles and high salaries. They may even be someone who has left one successful path and embarked on the unknown with great success as an entrepreneur. Even when they are happily coupled and in loving relationships that provide meaning, there is a distance from their true self. And that pain initiates the crucible. As I’ve said before, my clients don’t “need” to do the work with me, they want to do the work because they desire a deeper relationship with themselves as the ultimate goal.
And I’m here for all of it.
I serve as a midwife to this powerful and intense transformation. To witness the emergence of true identity shaped on solid ground vs. ringing hollow based on titles, degrees, tradition and attainment. It is a heart-filling journey to behold, true soul work. For me it combines an intensity that traditional therapy, though I love with so much of my heart and soul, doesn’t quite match. It is modern medicine for modern times.
When I started offering my mix of intensive work, my mind was just blown at the level of change possible. It’s not that things don’t still take time, to say anything else would be dishonest. Time is essential. No pressure is necessary. It’s just that the high-level of support along with your dedication to move from ambivalence to self-responsibility and change, is beyond magical. As my one client noted, “This work is catapulting me forward and why I signed up for more.”
Reach out to me here if you would like to explore this powerful work together
May you find the majesty, the medicine and the magic,