Googling ‘Therapy Nature Nurture”, one gets about 7,150,000(!) results in one-fifth of a second! This would suggest there’s a lot to say on this.
In this debate I am biased toward Nature, and tend to minimize Nurture, thus creating the most significant struggle in my work. After all, a therapist must believe change is possible despite one’s innate nature.
In my youth I held a firm belief that – with awareness, effort and perseverance we could change our nature/character. Later, being a mother and surrounded by children and parents, I slowly and firmly changed, and my belief in the power of nature intensified.
My vision of my work had to change, and thus my expectations.
How can I believe in change if I adhere to the belief that nature is more powerful?
Fortunately, I had many an occasion that proved me wrong.
Nowadays, I train future therapists. Their most repeated question is, “How many sessions should I wait before I tell this patient what he needs to do?”
Well, being an impatient person myself, I can definitely identify with the “quick fix” desire. After all, wouldn’t this be great: “Yes, take two aspirins and you’ll be guilt-free in the morning.”?
But my profession is the one that taught me more about patience than anything else in the world. It also taught me that there is almost always a possibility for change.
The novice therapist isn’t aware of the fact that their lack of patience is transmittable energetically, despite their attempts to mask it. In their rush to fix, they are creating incongruity in the session, all the while believing they are good enough actors to hide it.
Therapists can be good or bad, but they are definitely second-rate actors!
For the Nurture component to work effectively the therapist must be devout - devout to the belief that change will come with enough acceptance of ‘what is’, and a loving, holding environment.
And yet change can be small, but, sometimes small change can impact one’s life remarkably – quite similar to transferring a struggling plant to a sunny location … it’s about paying attention to the missing ingredient and being committed to supplying it without a timetable.
Some may say that therapy takes too long and it’s too expensive – and some may be right. I say that I believe in the healing process of believing that change is possible.
I’d like to end this very early morning reflection by retelling a story about a famous Rabbi, who knew about man’s internal conflicts before Freud:
– Rabbi Israel Salanter
One night, as he walked past the home of
a shoemaker, Rabbi Salanter noticed that despite the late hour, the man was
still working by the light of a dying candle. “Why are you still working,” he
asked. “It is very late and soon that candle will go out.” The shoemaker
replied, “As long as the candle is still burning, it is still possible to
accomplish and to mend.” Salanter spent that entire night excitedly pacing his
room and repeating to himself: “As long as the candle is still burning, it is
still possible to accomplish and to mend.”