Being a therapist is humbling – I love and am challenged daily by the work of being a therapist. No matter how much one thinks one knows from books, training, and mentors, it is only in the doing that one learns. The art of timing the therapeutic intervention is incredibly nuanced. I was reminded of this, and deeply moved by a passage in a novel I’m reading, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (thanks to my husband for this recommendation – what a good feminist!).
For those who haven’t heard of this book, it is a re-telling of the epic story of King Arthur, but through the eyes of a woman. A woman priestess of the old Goddess religons. It is a beautiful story of the moment in history when both Christianity and the old Pagan beliefs co-existed. And how the Goddess faiths were eventually subsumed by Christianity, and with that, the Goddess Herself.
The main protagonist in the story, Morgaine, is training to be a Priestess:
It was the small magics which came hardest, forcing the mind first to walk in unaccustomed paths. To call the fire and raise it at command, to call the mists to bring rain – all these were simple, but to know when to bring rain or mist and when to leave it in the hands of the Gods, that was not so simple.(Zimmer Bradley, 1982, p. 137)
This is so much like therapy – learning how to intervene in a supportive way is the easy part. Knowing the timing for such an intervention is more difficult. When do we leave it in the hands of the client, trusting their innate drive toward health? And when do they need our interventions? These are the subtleties of the work that come through self-reflection, experience, and many many trials and errors. One thing I do know – we only have to be good enough, not perfect. What a relief!