A Sacred Space Called Therapy

Written by Dr. Perry, PhD
Image Credit: Pixabay


“The end of confession is, to tell the truth to and for oneself.” ~J. M. Coetzee

I am frequently asked by potential patients, what they should expect from therapy. The answer to this largely depends on you. Therapy is a powerful tool that can provide you with life-changing insights into why you do certain things. The benefits are immeasurable, but therapy is not a one size fits all approach. What you will gain from therapy will have a lot to do with your specific and unique goals. The therapy room should be a safe space for healing, growth and exploration of your mental health goals. It is a judgment-free place for you to work on something in your life that is causing you difficulty.

My profession is mainly about connection. It is about how I connect with my patients and how I help them connect with themselves. I feel that it is my duty as a clinician to only work with individuals that I feel I can help. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with other clinicians and I have had patients come to me after spending a considerable amount of time without seeing much progress. It is of vital importance that you connect with your therapist and that you establish a therapeutic alliance. You both need to be in agreement as to the goals of therapy. Think of your therapist as your mental health advocate. 

The relationship between a patient and therapist is one that is rooted in mutual respect, care and confidentiality. Besides some exceptions that I am required by law to report such as future self-harm and harm to others, the majority of communication between me and a patient is confidential. The duty of confidentiality is a legal and ethical one that I must keep. This protected communication is very much like a confession.

When you enter the room and sit across from me, you must feel safe and secure in order to explore and process your emotions. I am there to safely guide you and to bear witness to your inner truths. The therapy room is somewhat like a confessional where you seek comfort and guidance as you share the current challenges in your life and with the help of your therapist, work towards a resolution. This sacred space is created by you and your therapist. The safety of this space is of utmost importance. The patient is in control; revealing as much or as little as they need. I am there to hold the space and to create a safe environment.

In my practice, I follow a structured treatment plan that is based on a solution-focused approach, which I use to guide my patients from and through past wounds to a healthier path. I am present to provide the necessary tools to overcome what you may have been suppressing. In my experience, people hide things from themselves when they are not ready to assume responsibility. My presence is necessary for accountability in order to make sure you are following through with your responsibilities.

It is important to point out that therapy is not just for moments of crisis. I believe therapy is important for everyday life. I personally see a therapist in order to maintain my own mental health. The example I often use is that you don’t stop going to the gym once you become physically healthy. You continue to go to the gym in order to maintain your health.

By seeing my own therapist, I am ensuring that I never forget the feeling of vulnerability that accompanies sitting in the sacred space of therapy.

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear about your experience with therapy.

The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a therapeutic relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a mental health professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific mental health questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.

Kindly,
Dr. Perry


CREDENTIALS
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology


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77 responses to A Sacred Space Called Therapy

  1. Mrs.B says:

    Lovely post. I saw a therapist after a nasty divorce. The way you describe the room is so accurate. It’s is like a confessional. I am so thankful for the help of my therapist. Thank you for writing this post and helping remove the stigma that is attached with seeing a therapist. Blessings.

    Liked by 14 people

  2. Without the therapist I saw after the death of my husband, I am not sure that I would be here today. Although I fought against what she was trying to do, in the beginning, she had endless patience, was always calm, never patronising and she, metaphorically, held my hand through a very difficult journey. I will always be grateful to her and I have nothing but the utmost respect for her.
    There still seems to be a stigma attached to seeing a therapist but, at the time I couldn’t have cared less because she gave me exactly what I needed – time and space to talk. x

    Liked by 17 people

  3. Steven H. says:

    Reading this makes me think you must be excellent at what you do. It is relieving to hear that you see a therapist too. I think one of the most powerful voices to lift the stigma away from therapy would definitely be from a therapist. Thank you for this post Dr. Perry. Your blog is a light in my life.

    Liked by 15 people

  4. SomewhereinCA says:

    Without my therapist I would not have had the strength or known how to deal with childhood trauma. We all need a “sacred space” to talk and heal❤️

    Liked by 13 people

  5. I would not be the person I am today without the years of therapy I took advantage of. It was work, for sure. I found that the pain of the healing process was much less than the pain I endured continuing in destructive cycles.

    I believe everyone should have a Mental Health Check Up every year like they do a physical. Mental health affects physical health and vice versa.

    Liked by 14 people

  6. Maxine says:

    I agree with the person who commented that everyone should have a mental health check up at least once a year. I don’t understand the stigma. I feel privileged that I get to see my therapist and I don’t care who knows it. I see the therapy room as my thinking space. l where No judgmental attitudes allowed. Thank you for a great post and Starting the discussion.

    Liked by 15 people

  7. MiniB says:

    Today was the first day I actually reached out to a therapist in my area and I did so because I was encouraged by your blog and have been following for over a year. Reading this confirmed my actions today. I don’t think the therapist I spoke with is the right fit for me because I just didn’t feel it. Thank you for this enlightening post Dr. Perry. I will continue in the direction of positive mental health and am thankful for you and your blog. You are a great support!

    Liked by 13 people

  8. What a great post Doc, very open and enlightening. I did see one once but never made it back to my second session as the therapist was hurt in a car accident. Although unfortunate, I kinda laughed to myself at the time thinking, even the therapist would do anything not to talk to me. I think the universe was taking the Mikey at the time. C’est La Vie.

    Liked by 12 people

  9. After connecting with my therapist I felt safe in that sacred space, I felt light as a feather, it’s a space where I can just be . A space where someone cares about my hurt and give me what I need to rise above it all. Always with the greatest respect. Truly Amazing what you can achieve through dedicated therapy. ⚓

    Liked by 16 people

  10. My therapist helped me immeasurably when I was on the precipice of a complete breakdown brought on by stress at work. She made me realise that I was the person that held it all together for everyone, and sometimes I had to let go. I also realised I was a ‘doer’ the person who keeps getting given the job because they will get it done. I had to learn to say. no, and realise why I needed that affirmation of always being the one to survive. That was 5 years ago and for those years I could. No longer do some things, my brain just shut down and wouldn’t let me. But now I am back, only recently, but with a deeper understanding of who I am and not allowing myself to be taken advantage of.

    Liked by 8 people

  11. Misty from Minnesota says:

    Thank you for sharing what it is like to be in therapy from your perspective. This was eye opening for me in many ways. I thought therapy was more for times of crisis but I can see how nonsensical that idea really is. Great post! Love your blog!

    Liked by 11 people

  12. Shantal says:

    This post really resonated with me. I have long been in therapy and find that it has added to my life in many ways. I started therapy in college and found it was extremely helpful to work through things with a therapist. I now have a therapist that I work really well with. Finding the right one for you is really important. Thank you for breaking the stigma Dr. Perry!

    Liked by 9 people

  13. Kate R says:

    “It is of vital importance that you connect with your therapist and that you establish a therapeutic alliance… The relationship between a patient and therapist is one that is rooted in mutual respect, care and confidentiality.” I completely agree.

    I had been in a tough spot and couldn’t afford a stable therapist so I used one of the “free clinics” run by a local college. It allowed students to practice their skills and helped people in my situation gain access to help. However, students were only there for a semester at a time. I spent three weeks building my trust in my therapist only to have them soon after leave. It brought in a lot of negative feelings and almost ruined the work we did, thankfully the therapist I had gave me wonderful tools to help me without really needing to go back.
    Once I find myself in a truly stable, and economically beneficial, situation I plan on finding someone I can trust and believe is in on my side.

    Liked by 10 people

  14. I love that your describe the therapy room as a “sacred space” for indeed it is. I will be forever grateful to the woman who helped me regain my footing and onto the road to recovery and beyond. And it really was up to me how far I traveled down that road. Often I would beg, “but when will I be better?’ I was in so much pain and under an enormous amount of stress. It takes a lot of hard work and facing hard truths about oneself – sometimes things that I would have liked to have kept under lock and key. But the thing is if we don’t deal with our stuff, our stuff deals with us – it leaks out in ways that are toxic and harmful to ourselves and others. It’s been almost 20 years now – wow! But I am so much better than I ever thought I could be. It was so worth it!

    Dr. Perry your empathy and compassion are so wonderful. I think you truly are such a BIG blessing. Yet, it is as you say – one must have a connection and trust in the therapist to work through the painful stuff of life that can keep us stuck. I do not know you personally, but yet, I feel a connection – a spiritual connection that helps me a lot. Your posts mean a lot to me because they help me remember all I fought so hard to achieve – they help keep me on track.
    And I am grateful – I know the gems you give so freely and I know how helpful they can be, if we let them be.

    I sincerely thank you for sharing your wisdom and your training freely and without monetary gain. May God continue to richly bless your life. You are an inspiration!

    Liked by 11 people

  15. I saw a therapist who after listening to me said she saw herself as a resource person for me and gave me the name of a book. I didn’t feel a connection so I never went back. I do have a very close friend who is a therapist and through our friendship she has helped me immensely. I’m happy for whoever shows up in my life with maybe a piece that gives me that ah-ha moment so I can move forward. I always love reading your posts. They help me a lot as well! Have a great day! 🙂

    Liked by 9 people

  16. Diane Hess says:

    Thanks for this great post! Your analogy brought a smile to my face 🙂
    I do believe that we need to take care of ourselves…the emotional, physical and the spiritual and like you said…not only in times of crisis but in daily life to maintain health.

    Liked by 8 people

    • Rebecca Leslie Roberts says:

      I adore the positive energy you emote every single time you post. The world needs more of you. Thanks for sharing kindness laced with insight.

      Liked by 7 people

  17. Sunshine24/7 says:

    Hi Dr. Perry, what you state about therapy being more than just for times of crisis is so true. We spend so much time and money maintaining our outward appearances ( hair, nails, clothes, gym etc) but we neglect the most powerful tool we have, our minds! After I see my therapist I feel connected and empowered. I love the feeling that someone gets me and I am on the right track. Awesome post

    Liked by 8 people

  18. boompawolf says:

    The biggest thing I’ve discovered in therapy is healing and self-work isn’t a passive process. I can’t sit there and think they can “fix”me.

    Liked by 10 people

  19. IdaliaG. says:

    Hi Dr. Perry, this is a timely post for me. I have reached out to a few therapists in my area and I am trying to see who is a good fit for me. This post is so useful for me! I now have a better idea of what I am looking for. You are so great. Thank you for all you do.

    Liked by 8 people

  20. I love the therapist I used to see. I want to go back, though that may sound odd to some. But I was working on EMDR, and coming to love who I am. I have C-ptsd and ADD. I’m thinking there’s more, but until I get back I’m not sure. I was learning how to cope with me and the things my mind does. I think getting self-help is a huge sign of strength.

    Liked by 8 people

  21. autismduniya says:

    It has taken me a long time to understand the exact nature of how therapy works. I think I was in such a self protecting zone that I didn’t know how to value that someone was sitting there holding the space. I projected a lot of mistrust and silent anger, and only now can I see that all along. I really did know that it was a bond being formed. What a weird process it all is. But it can be life saving. Thank you for sharing another thought provoking post.

    Liked by 8 people

  22. Create Space says:

    You write in the language of people Dr.Perry, it comes from your heart. You are able to walk us through what the experience should be, as if we were there. I fell in love with Carl Rogers three core conditions and you are able to show them so clearly. I hope you are a professor in some well-known college, sharing and modeling your love of Psychology! Thank you for encouraging my love of Psychology.

    Liked by 7 people

  23. 💜Wandering Soul💜 says:

    You are a good man Dr. Perry, you have helped me so much with your writing and I am beyond grateful. Thank you for this post shedding light on your approach to therapy🙏

    Liked by 8 people

  24. I’ve had the same therapist for 6 years and prior to that, I had one for 4. I thank God that I’ve been blessed with two amazing ones. The will e the first to tell me that lots of bad therapists (in it for the wrong reasons) exist. Also, I have reverted to Catholicism 3 years ago and it’s not a coincidence that my therapist is Catholic as well. She actually did an inservice at her clinic recently, regarding religious tolerance with patients and not discounting the healing they get from their faith.

    Liked by 7 people

  25. I’ve been in therapy for almost 10 years. At first it was about dealing with all the really difficult stuff. This went on for a few years and included the physical manifestation of the emotional trauma I’d been holding on to by way of adrenal fatigue. The body was falling apart as the mental and emotional was going through transition to wellness. This went on for a little while and then as the path began to clear therapy became less intense, more a conversation about life than a constant barrage of trouble shooting. My overall physical health improved with the help of alternative medicine.

    The hard part is mostly behind me now, but I do like to sit down with my therapist and examine the triggers that continue to give me pause. They will always be there but they don’t have to hijack my life anymore.

    I wish people would understand that time with a good therapist is one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves. If we wish to step boldly into our future we must first look bravely into our past … and release it.

    Liked by 9 people

  26. Thank you for sharing this Dr. Perry. I know many people won’t admit they go to therapy for reasons unknown. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge on the subject.

    Liked by 6 people

  27. Diane H. says:

    Great post. I met my therapist while I was going through a horrible divorce. It was such a blessing to be able to talk to someone who was nonjudgmental and helped me curb my negative thinking. I’m much healthier and wiser thanks to the whole process. Thank you

    Liked by 7 people

  28. jonicaggiano says:

    I love what you say regarding accountability! When I was young and learning about why I was “different” due to my childhood I saw an ACOA Specialist. Due to my feelings of trust and safety with this therapist I was able to share my childhood experiences and learn why I had so many unhealthy issues to work through. I am so grateful for the years of therapy I was blessed to be able to afford and the life-changing effect it had on my life. Having a therapist that you trust and that holds you accountable is a privilege and a blessing. Thank you Dr. for your work!

    Liked by 8 people

  29. Mrs. C. says:

    Hi Dr. Perry, you seem to really love your profession. I can tell by what you write and how you write. I wish all therapists were like you. Thank you for all you do. I appreciate it immensely.

    Liked by 6 people

  30. Mary Mangee says:

    I have had several therapists throughout my life. Each one at different times. The guidance and growth that I received from each of them has set me on a journey of healing and strength. I have been blessed to have the perfect therapist at the perfect time for what I needed to address. I am grateful for those individuals that have helped me become the best version of myself.

    Liked by 9 people

  31. I had never thought about a therapist seeing a therapist. I can only imagine that this would strengthen the work that you do. Knowing the feeling of vulnerability that a patient feels allows you to help and guide your own patients. Brilliant article and thought provoking.

    Liked by 8 people

  32. Carol P says:

    Therapy helped me immensely with coping with anxiety. That may have helped me notice my anxiety had a lot to do with drinking, and I managed to quit drinking for 6 months (now over a year) without even mentioning it to my psychologist. She was so happy for me.
    Thanks for the reminder to keep seeing them when things are going well, to maintain good mental health!

    Liked by 6 people

  33. Cynthia Lynn says:

    After an attempted suicide, I have been in some form of therapy since age thirteen. I presented as an enigma, prescribed every drug as they rolled out, given an updated diagnosis as they were renamed over the decades. I didn’t fit the mold of any one mental illness per se.
    Psychoanalysis was the only time I felt uncomfortably vulnerable, but which put an end to the clinical depression that nearly killed me on many occasions. I was twenty-three and hospitalized when Dr. Geis was working a shift for his colleague. Having a private practice, he offered to see me for $20.00 a session if I would commit myself to at least one year of psychoanalysis.
    Five years went by before I switched Dr, Geis out for my husband, then sixteen years later, I switched out my husband for Dr. Geis who still had the Red Teddy Bear I had given him all those years ago. I saw Dr. Geis for the following ten years before I had to move away. I now have the Red Bear and my son who recently graduated from UCSB earning a degree in Psychological Brain Sciences (Jewish mom here) was named after Dr. Geis whose generosity and gentle nature has had a profound impact on my life.

    Liked by 6 people

  34. doubledacres says:

    I was molested as a child and carried it with me for years until it came to a head one day. I started seeing a therapist and I just never could open up to him. I was molested by a male and I believe him being a male was part of the problem. He had me enroll in a program with counselors and they were all women. Within a short time I was able to open up to them. I had buried the molestation so deep and out of mind once they managed to bring it out of me I was totally changed. He knew what he was doing when he sent me there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 4 people

  35. toagoodperson says:

    Thanks for writing about this topic. I used to visit a therapist but I don’t go anymore although I am still tired. There are two problems. One, my society doesn’t believe in mental health. Second, that therapist asked me couple of questions/requests and I felt pointless, depressed again..she asked why I visited and what kind of help I am seeking. Also she kind of asked me to leave and come back when I stop smoking 😦

    Liked by 4 people

  36. Raney Simmon says:

    I’ve personally never seen a therapist before, but am finding myself thinking more and more about going to see one for my own well being. Reading this and seeing the comments makes me truly believe looking out for my own mental health is exactly what I need.

    Liked by 5 people

  37. I’m sure therapy takes many forms in your office. I went to a few counseling sessions when I was going through my divorce and I know I misunderstood the concept of therapy or counseling at the time. And these can be very different things depending upon what a person suffers from. There is a stigma that you must somehow be defective to seek out therapy. But I finally understood it better during one of my counseling sessions when I told my counselor about some other people’s behavior. I made the comment that, “I’m a lot more mentally healthy than these people.” And I was sort of surprised when my counselor told me, “Nobody said you had a mental illness, you’re just dealing with a lot of crap right now.” That’s when I got it. I opened up a lot more after that. That trust and security was there, I just had to overcome my misunderstandings.

    Liked by 5 people

  38. MS says:

    Therapy was the single most important thing I have ever done for myself. It was liberating. The acute pain was dulled and I was able to move on – I absolutely could not have done it alone. I last saw my therapist 4 years ago and I still feel the benefit daily. I am immensely grateful to her.

    Liked by 5 people

  39. Therapy has been a blessing in my life. Dealing with anxiety, and how I see myself. A judgement free zone which gives an outside perspective. I have always found it easier to express what challenges me with a stranger, over the people closest to me. It’s an invaluable tool.

    Liked by 5 people

  40. J.T. says:

    Beautiful post. I love how you describe the therapy room. I am considering therapy for myself and this post reaffirms what I am thinking. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. m says:

    Wonderful post. I need to see this today. It was perfect timing and so helpful in aiding me to make my decision to go back to therapy. Thank you Dr.

    Liked by 3 people

  42. I love your post. I have not personally ever visited a therapist, not because I don’t see value in it, but because, as you mentioned, not every clinician approaches their clients like you. I’m somewhat daunted by the prospect of finding the “right” therapist so as not to end up like the person you describe coming to you after spending inordinate amount of time with clinicians who didn’t help them. I have rather used the approach to find select few friends whom I trust implicitly to share the details of my life with – I can count those friends on two fingers and they are my “therapists”. What I don’t get from them, I get from your blog. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  43. Little Rants says:

    This was beautiful. I remember walking into my first session with my doctor back in 2011. I was super scared and didn’t know who to talk to. Anxiety and the fear of having been rejected had gotten to me so bad, I couldn’t go out and socialize or even talk to people. If it hadn’t been for therapy and Dr. Thomas turning my life around, I would have been stuck in that rut. Coming from a medical field myself, I now understand the importance of mental health and how important it is to seek help when needed – and I talk to patients that need it too. It helps.

    Liked by 4 people

  44. Sharon says:

    I worked with a therapist for a short time several years ago- and being able to open up to her was such a help. Sadly, she ended up relocating and I just never reached out to find another therapist. That is a decision I struggle with daily- as I am starting to see that I just have so much to deal with, and I don’t know how to process that myself. I need that safe haven again…. thank you for your insight and outlook on the process.

    Liked by 4 people

  45. Somewhereinthesun says:

    I just started therapy. I am excited to go through the process. I know it will be difficult but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living in the past. Thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

  46. I believe connection is very important. It took several attempts to find the right therapist for my daughter. When she felt the connection she opened up to new ideas and greater honesty about herself thank you for your sharing

    Liked by 3 people

  47. brookejcutler says:

    Wonderful post. I was just thinking the other day, as I sat and spoke with my lovely therapist (who looked and felt very heavy before we spoke, possibly as a result of a mentally draining day) that therapy is really a dynamic process which would inevitably affect both the therapist and patient at times. It’s wonderful that you care for your own mental health so well! In my own experience, I often find that I go so deep within my mind outside of the therapy room, that it’s very rare that we will cover any new ground. This is a little disappointing to me. But still, therapy is wonderful, as the physical expression of the thoughts I’ve already covered are a great indicator of just how much I care about a particular issue. How passionately I talk about something, how a particular issue makes me cry…they’re all clues aren’t they. Fascinating the human mind, isn’t it. What an interesting job you must have! ☺️

    Liked by 2 people

  48. Great post! I went to a therapist for about a year. Then we both relocated in different states. It was a blessing to have someone to talk with and brainstorm issues with. It was a very good experience. Now, the prospect of finding a new therapist is daunting. So instead, I surround myself in healing therapies and teachers who are speaking about things I struggle with. I read and learn all I can.

    I would like to talk with him again now to say, “Look how far I’ve come! Remember when I told you that joining Toast Masters was like looking up at the top of Mount Everest and saying, ok, walk up without oxygen? Now I teach classes and speak in front of people!”

    I’ll never forget him.

    Thank you for your post!

    Liked by 2 people

  49. Great post. My therapist occasionally brings her big Old English Sheepdog. It just flops down near your feet and chews on a toy quietly. That is so calming along with the voice of my therapist and her office.

    Liked by 3 people

  50. Angela says:

    This was an excellent post. As someone who has been in and out of therapy since I was 8yrs old, finding the right fit, as an adult, was a daunting task. Once I found her, I knew she was the right one for me. We’re on our four year anniversary and I’ve graduated from twice a week to once a month! Thanks to, like you do with your patients, holding the space and creating the safe environment I needed, to process my emotions and truths, and move forward into a healthy relationship with myself and others.

    Liked by 3 people

  51. Hi there! It’s hard to come by anything interesting about this subject. You, however, know what you’re talking about 🙂 Thank you for spending your time writing some relevant content for us!

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Colby Roblow says:

    Hello there! It’s hard to come by anything interesting about this subject (that is not overly simplistic), because everything related to 3D seems very complicated. You however sound like you know what you’re talking about 🙂 Thank you for spending your time writing some good content for us!

    Liked by 3 people

  53. Cecilia Holmes says:

    This is a wonderful post. Therapy for me is my special place where I can safely express my emotions and thoughts without being judged. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  54. I’ve had good therapists, and some not so good. I actually just stopped seeing one because she spent more time talking about herself and the trauma she dealt with as a child than she did focusing on my concerns and needs. It was disappointing to say the least. I hope I find more value with my next one. I totally agree that therapy is not just for the bad times, but also the good, and no one should feel embarrassed about going to therapy.

    Liked by 2 people

  55. Just as in all professions, not all professionals do their jobs well or with needed care.
    As such, a caring and competent therapist is as a locksmith when the car owner realizes that the keys locked in the car must be retrieved with skilled assistance. What a task you all have and with the many burdens you share. Thank you for caring and maintaining your own wellbeing.

    Liked by 2 people

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