extra! extra! how psychotherapy saves you money!

driving through kelowna’s residential streets, i watched a car park and all of a sudden i thought, “psychotherapy may not be super cheap, but it sure has saved me money!”

why did i think that? and why while watching a car park? i guess cars make me think of consumerism. and has my consumerism gone down with psychotherapy? i honestly don’t know. i get as irritated as ever at anything but a voluntary curbing of my three big spending areas: restaurants, books and thrift store clothes.

what i do know is that the more emotional support i’ve received, the more my financial life has improved, and the more i have been able to contribute financially (and emotionally) to other people’s lives. so i guess psychotherapy and other forms of emotional support have contributed to my and my community’s net worth.

ok, so let’s see what the connection is – or at least some points of connection. one thing that comes up is that my parents were typical starving artists. there was absolutely no money at all until i was about 14. so poverty was “normal” until i began to seriously consider the idea that i didn’t have to copy my parents’ lifestyle. i also spent much of my life believing that i didn’t have a right to more than was absolutely necessary. i’m still working on that one but have been exposed to enough evidence to the contrary that i’m willing to entertain the idea that i can have a lot of the things/events/people that enrich my life.

another thing that comes to mind is the idea that in the end, we are all one. this was always a vague notion but over the years, it has become much clearer to me. this makes it easier for me to have things in my possession – because i get it on a much more emotional level now that whatever is in my possession right now can (and will) change ownership at any moment. i see this particuarly in my relationhships – i am learning that they don’t “belong” to me. i participate in them. the more i have an attitude of open heart, open mind and open hands towards them, the richer they are for all concerned.

none of these changes came to me solely through just sitting there and thinking of them on my own. they came to me through conversations with my therapist, with the amazing spiritual directors at the listening post in vancouver’s downtown eastside, long conversations with friends, participation in counselling education like satir’s systemic therapy, group therapy, support groups, and through what i’ve learned from my clients.

definitely, many inights happened in my own private corner of the world, in dreams, while journaling or writing poetry, while reading books, or simply in reflection. but as much as i like to think of myself as an independent person, i believe that these insights only started to blossom as they found an echo (or a challenge) in another human being. and i think one of these human beings is my therapist, who interacts with me in a way that i need once in a while to … well, to increase all of our net worth.

so … what does that look like … taking a random 3-year period (and my therapist’s high rates), i think i probably spend about 3% of my take-home pay on therapy. money well invested.

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