Introduction to the Colors of Therapy
I practiced mental health therapy for twenty-five years. During the span of my career, I noticed a few similarities in the therapy process that I hope to convey in this poem. In general, therapy isn’t easy for the client, but it’s a heckuva lot better than suffering without anybody’s help.
Therapy brought up many feelings and directional shifts for those clients that I worked with. Initially, the clients might have experienced fear toward the therapeutic process, but it was my experience that if the therapy room was a safe place and if the client trusted me, then the client would hang in for the long haul. The successful client reaped many benefits like freedom from the past and a more emotionally savvy way of dealing with the present.
My experience as a therapist includes many clients who transformed. In this poem, I attempt to generalize just what that experience of transformation feels like and what emotional shifts take place during the course of our work together. The poem is structured from the client’s point of view—from the initial call to schedule an appointment to the final session.
Hopefully, this poem will help to demystify the therapy process and influence the reader to be more open to trying therapy, should the need arise.
The Colors of Therapy
Sitting in the waiting room at 6 p.m.,
I’m already starting to feel hopeful.
Although my chest still feels tight.
My world still fragile, closing in.
I walk into your office wide-eyed with fear
of what we will find when we explore,
my self-defeating tendencies, my secrets—
hurtful people and events I can’t ignore.
You gently guide me through the maze,
the winding corridors, twisting, turning
inward to those frozen memories
that you call denial and repression.
You say it will take time, move slow.
You assure me that one day it will be okay.
You let me trust you, grasp your hand,
brace myself for the fall.
As we chip away
on all those bleak winter evenings,
I start out with nothing but a sigh
and end up with so much pain.
We unravel the trauma from a spool
like frayed threads unable to find the needle’s eye.
You teach me it’s okay to stumble.
You tell me, “How ever long it takes.”
You help me to find my strength,
new ways to get through each day.
You say I have it within me to heal,
past the messy parts, instilling hope in fear.
What you say feels honest and true.
I move from the dark colors of my past.
The blacks and blues to peaceful pastels,
and finally to colors of bright, sunny hues.
When the details of my self-portrait are done,
I give you a hug and a few tears.
You promise you will always be close by,
a phone call, an appointment away.
The Colors of Therapy (A Video Poem)
© 2017 Mark Tulin