I am inviting you, to step inside my mind. Let’s take a deeper look inside me and how I see therapy. I use creative works to provoke thought (or invoke imagery) while providing psychoeducation about therapy. Creative works like music, poems, movies and books spark powerful emotions.
When I struggle with finding the words to describe how I feel or what an experience was like for me, I inevitably run across some fictional work that describes the experience perfectly. I connect with it, embrace it, and just allow myself to feel. There is comfort in knowing that my human experience can be understood by another.
Readiness for Change
Readiness for change refers to our awareness of issues and willingness to commit to a plan of change. In the Stages of Change Model there are 5 Stages that describe how people move towards change: Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. Counselors use information client's share with them about themselves, the length of time you previously maintained progress, assessments, and other tools at each stage to assess a client's readiness for change.
My favorite poem that describes readiness for change is Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. Notice the speaker thinking about doing something different (contemplation), moving near their chosen path (preparation), choosing the path (action) and then continuing to choose that path daily (maintenance).
The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
When I read this poem I see myself in those woods with my favorite colors. The yellow from the sun and wood. The green of the shrubbery all around me. The magnitude of choosing a path reflected in the height of the trees. Looking down each path thinking of the next few steps in either direction. For me, it connects so well to my own readiness for change.
It’s Not A Problem, Unless It’s A Problem.
I struggled significantly with self acceptance and self esteem issues - admitting that I could make decisions was hard. Things happened to me and around me, I was not the cause. There was nothing for ME to change. People, places, and things needed to change, then I could be happy.
You see, there was nothing for me to change because I was unaware of my issues. When working with clients, I ask them verbatim “Is this a problem for you?” When you are aware of a challenge, then we can begin working on it. You are the expert on your life, you know what is and is not an issue for you. Sometimes it takes reflection in therapy to see what is an issue. I want to know your beliefs and honor your autonomy while igniting your awareness.
Think “Houston We Have a problem”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
In this stage of change, people become aware and acknowledge their problematic patterns of behaviors and thoughts. You see the two roads. At this stage, I became aware of my problem - being passive. I realized that not making a decision is making a decision. I was frightened yet empowered to learn that I could change simply by making a decision. I am the expert on my life. I know how emotions feel in my body and I know how my body responds to various stimuli. I am the best person to identify and communicate this to others. I know what I want to change, and I know what goals I want to set.
Clients are the experts on their own life. You will identify what is an issue and how it effects your life. I will provide a safe space for you to feel heard and understood. For therapy to work, I have to see things as you see them to identify tools to address those issues.
Making baby steps
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
Here is where I took my power back. I wanted change. I began to make baby steps towards creating a new path. The high grass on the path bending with every step. My brain learning new habits. I let my yes be yes and my no be no. This was a tough stage. It shook up relationships with everyone in my life because how they had experienced "Isla" was changing. It forced change in those relationships. However, I was determined to no longer be complacent to maintain those relationships. I Needed to be seen for me.
In therapy I help clients understand that creating new habits is like choosing a new path in a grassy field. At first the grass is high and it is hard to traverse. You hesitantly approach and carefully try to navigate it. But, with every step the grass lays. With every repeated action your brain learns to do something different. And I am here to encourage you along the way.
Change in the Behavior
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back
I felt stronger and rejuvenated as I changed. I paid attention to my body and my thoughts. Sometimes my head ached from overthinking a decision because I wanted to find a passive approach. Other times my heart raced and my palms sweat because I feared what I had said. The road was not easy but I knew with certainty that I was not turning back.
I observed the rewards of my changes in my behavior. I sought and attracted new people, places, and things. I increased positive self talk, challenged my irrational beliefs, and built relationships with positive people. I experienced an increase in confidence, self love, peace in my body and better communication.
I want to help you experience your idea of a better life. Like a well walked grassy pathway or water flowing in areas of least resistance, the brain will choose the pathway that is most often used. These paths are not always the best solutions. They are just the easiest ones. I want to help guide you towards strengthening helpful behaviors and eliminating behaviors that no longer serve you well. Together, we can identify solutions that naturally fit into your lifestyle.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
I will be telling others for years to come the power of doing something different. Maybe in some part of my life my passive behavior was necessary; however, when it became problematic, I chose to do something different. Today, it comes easier to me to identify my passive behavior and correct it. I am gentle with myself when I fail. Maintenance means maintaining your change for over 6 months and addressing relapse if/when it happens. It is not attaining perfection.
Putting it All Together
In my office, I strive to understand and increase awareness of your life experiences that have shaped your behavior. With new clarity, you will see the two roads and be able to identify YOUR path. You will begin to walk down your path and choose everyday to continue down that same path.
You can continue to do what you have always done. Or we can do something different. Change is scary. The familiarity of our patterns and outcomes can keep us bound both emotionally and mentally. It is true for so many. Two roads diverged in a wood, will you choose the one less traveled by?
If this resonates with you schedule an appointment with me.