When you think it's not working...
If the Only prayer you ever say in your life is "thank you", that would suffice: Meister Eckhart
About 18 years ago I had a client—a very beautiful, highly intelligent woman in her early 30s—we can call her Cecilia. She worked in the corporate world, married with no children.
I don’t remember the exact issues she had-this being a story from memory alone-but I remember the feelings—both hers and mine.
Most of the time it felt as if she was in a state of helpless, repressed rage—a lot of it stemming from her very difficult, almost verbally and mentally abusive relationship with her father and that of his with her mother.
Cecilia was stuck in her life, with a husband she loved but was dissatisfied with their lives, stuck in her career, not sure if she wanted a baby.
Often she came to sessions straight from work, very angry with one of her colleagues, usually men and would launch into an abusive tirade against him.
The problem was not the rant but how unyielding, deaf she became when she started blasting that rage. It’s like she blocked herself behind a concrete wall and nothing could get through, there was no talking.
Most of the time I felt helpless myself at the unrelenting, implacable defensiveness, total refusal to allow any sense of vulnerability—a stubborn seethe that expressed itself in every aspect of her life-albeit in a passive aggressive form.
For instance, almost always she would come to our sessions late—sometimes even 30 minutes late—leaving Me simmering and resentful but unable to address it—and as I look back I realise—it was because I was a little intimidated by her rage at the same time knew I had to continue helping her.
This helplessness I felt is an excellent example of transference in a therapeutic situation whereby the client transfers their own feelings of helplessness etc on to the therapist. She was feeling trapped and powerless and unconsciously determined to make me feel the same way. So If I believed I could help heal her, she would show me how powerless I was! Nobody could heal her, it was a challenge!
One of the reasons we keep holding on to old rage, grudges, resentments—no matter how justified and well deserved and how genuine our grievance—is that harping back on the grudge provides an excellent justification for why we are stuck in our own lives. We can always go back to blaming that old story.
Over two years of our sessions it seemed we made zero progress.
We tried every form of therapy I had learned—we did astrology and because I had learned my astrology from Liz Greene’s Centre of Psychological Astrology (and even the Faculty of Astrological Studies), my astrology was almost totally psychologically (Jungian) based—it was anchored in analysing your past, your relationships with your parents, your complexes, your partnerships, your insecurities, your mythology and so forth.
We did EFT, Past Life Regression, Energy Healing, Shamanic Healing—and Nothing seemed to make the slightest dent in her defenses. She was one of the most exhausting clients I’d ever had and left me feeling totally inadequate, a failure in fact.
And those years taught me one of my most valuable lessons as a healer.
In my naïveté I had assumed that it was entirely MY job to heal the client and if I was not succeeding then it was my fault, I was to be blamed, it was I who was not skilled enough.
It is then I began to realise and discovered the two words Deo Concedente.
And this Latin phrase has been my guiding principle, my maxim since then.
I knew, not just came to believe, that Healing Happens Deo Concedente, God Willing, Insha’Allah.
Remembering this phrase instils in a deep sense of humility as it did for the medieval European alchemists who believed that their alchemical work could not be completed by themselves alone but needed divine help and Deo Concedente was their maxim.
Carl Jung believed the analysis with a patient succeeded ‘deo concedente’.
The therapist is Only ever a conduit, a facilitator—the healing contract is actually between the client and his maker. The therapist must do their best and have absolute faith that it’s helped. Even when it seems like nothing is happening—something is happening.
This is one of the reasons why many therapists have anxieties about charging an appropriate fee—how do you determine what you’ve done has been helpful and if it has been, how helpful?
It’s not that Cecilia was Consciously not interested in exploring and releasing what was so troubling her—she did turn up and was paying me.
But unconsciously, she had lived for too long with the rage and the wall around it and to allow even a chink in it could drown her like a flood, a deluge.
So even though I kept trying hard, almost desperately, felt virtually defeated.
I didn’t realise till years later that the work we were doing together was turning over and digging the hardened soil of her psyche, turning it over, airing it. Nothing could grow in that soil the way it had been.
Then when my husband got transferred to another country and job and we had to leave England, I was somewhat relieved. Online sessions were not that common those days and neither I nor Cecilia raised it.
Five or so years later I received an email from Cecilia. She had had a baby 2-3 years back. And wrote something to the effect—‘It took my having a child and going virtually alone through the process-the family on either side weren’t too interested in helping out-that I realised how hard you work, how hard you tried to help me. It took my having a baby to break down my defenses. I can’t express my gratitude enough…’
Even now, over 25 years ago since I took my first steps into the healing world, there are days when I wonder after a session if anything happened—but not that often.
One, because Now I see the shift happening fairly quickly even if the client is still deep in the grips and can’t see the light. I can see the difference in their behaviour, attitude, energy, etc.
Second, Because I Know, without a doubt, it is entirely Deo Concedente.
God Bless you.
August 15, 2022