Counselling & Therapy Perth | Sam Dhu Counselling

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Samantha Dhu, qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist, shares knowledge and tips to help you live a happier life in her blog. If you’re looking for compassionate, knowledgeable therapy in Perth or online, come and meet Sam. 

Why Therapy Takes Time (And There’s Always Hope)

Today I wanted to share a poem with you that has a lot of significance for me. It’s one that I like to share with my clients, as it so beautifully illustrates the therapeutic journey that I see many people taking. Whenever I read it, I can’t help but be moved by the very real emotion behind each part of the journey, and perhaps you will feel the same way too.


Autobiography in Five Chapters

by Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost...
I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in...it's a habit
My eyes are open; I know where I am;
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.


Let’s talk through the meaning behind this poem. I feel that it beautifully illustrates a journey I see a lot of people go through in therapy. As I see it, there are four stages of the journey as represented in the poem.
 

Four Stages of Therapy

In the first two chapters, you see this person making the same mistake – falling in a hole – twice. They don’t understand why it’s happening to them – it’s out of their awareness. They feel hopeless and lost, in denial even, and tell themselves that it isn’t their fault. Here we have the first stage: a lack of awareness.

I see this a lot. People develop harmful habits, but they don’t yet realise it. We might be struggling with something but not understand what’s really going on or causing it. Fortunately, there is a way out…

This brings us to the second stage: awareness. After falling down the hole twice, suddenly, they realise that it’s a habit – their own fault. They still fall in the hole, but this time, they are aware of what is going on and are able to get out of it much more quickly.

When you become aware of a habit, it empowers you. Even though you still put yourself through the pain in that moment, becoming aware is a step forward in your journey.

In my opinion, awareness is one of the most important aspects of therapy and is necessary before we can start to see change. My job is to draw my client’s attention to things that I might notice happening between us in the room, or the way they talk about themselves and other people. Suddenly, things that used to be part of the background, are now coming into focus and helping to make sense of their situation.

At this point, they start to see a glimmer of hope. Like I said, awareness is empowering. Once you are aware, you begin to see that you have a choice, which is stage 3.  

In the poem, we see this progression, as the person in the story first becomes aware of the habit, then walks around the hole, and then even chooses a different path. With awareness comes hope and then change. Stopping the habit isn’t always easy – we may fall into the hole a few more times after becoming aware of it – but with the right support, we can get there in the end.

Finally, with the awareness and an understanding of the choices in front of us, we can make a change, which is the final stage. The habit is changed – the process may have been difficult and painful, but we are able to overcome and move forward.
 

Therapy is Hard Work

I’ve got to be really honest with you – therapy isn’t all easy. There’s a lot of hard work to be done, especially around developing that awareness. But it’s all an important part of the process, and my clients would agree that it’s really rewarding when you come through the other end of it. Plus, we do have a lot of laughs when we work together, and definitely some enjoyable moments between the hard work.
 

We Can Do This

The most important thing I want you take away from this is that if you are struggling, you can get help, you can do the work and become aware of your choices, and have hope that change is possible! I always have that hope for my clients, because I see it happen all the time in my practice.

"If you are struggling you can get help,

You can do the work

And become aware

Of your choices,

And have hope that

Change is possible!"

Something that I am really passionate about is increasing people’s awareness of mental health and wellness. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma around mental health and getting help. We’re all human and vulnerable, and we all need to know that it’s okay to reach out to a professional, or even just share what you’re going through with a friend or family member.

If this poem moves you like it does me, please go ahead and share it on Facebook, Instagram, or put it on the wall of your office, as you never know who it will touch and what significance it may have for them. It could help somebody to see themselves, their family, or friends in a different light and find new hope.

"We’re all human and

vulnerable, and we all need

To know that

It’s okay to reach out

To a professional, or even just

share

What you’re going through with

Somebody."

So, that’s it from me. I’m about to go out now and enjoy some self-care time. Speaking of which, I plan to talk more about that in another post.

I hope you’re having a super day and I’ll chat with you again soon.

Cheers,
Samantha