How Compassion Can Enrich Our Lives


A life compassionately lived is an inspiration to others.

A skit on Saturday Night Live about twenty years ago depicted a man and woman standing outside of a therapist's office. One actor asks the other if this is his office. He answers ‘Yes” and she slaps him across the face. He acknowledged being TheRapist.

In my mind, a light turned on as I was shocked by this new perspective. Really?! I had been calling myself TheRapist. Clients have been calling me TheRapist. I had been practicing as a PsychoTheRapist for five or more years at this point, asking people to trust me. What was I thinking?

What does this title mean? Does it mean Psycho is TheRapist? Or, there is a rapist of the psyche? I ask these questions because the worlds we use have an energy, and the word, psycho the rapy, seems violent, or it suggests that one person is doing something hurtful to another. Also, the word suggests a hierarchical relationship. After this late-night television watching, I wanted to call myself anything but TheRapist. I didn’t know how to reconcile the implied aggression in this widely-used title.

The delicate and personal practice in my office didn’t jive with this notion of aggression and so I began to call myself a counselor, and now a coach. The work of Carl Rogers, the author and counselor whose work and philosophy I had studied, provided the phraseology as well as the tone of a model which felt comfortable. His stance was equal, gentle and respectful. He was with his clients and not distant from them.

Over the years, these initial notions percolated into a flavorful blend as I later developed my own philosophy by creating a model of facilitation and collaboration which rests upon a compassionate, nonhierarchical approach. The doctor and patient dyad becomes the facilitator and client dyad. The dialog encompasses the giving and receiving: the learning and teaching: the relational process of the therapeutic change for the client as well as the facilitator." (Marsanico, 2006) This implies the continuing emotional and spiritual development of the counselor. Furthermore, in my collaborative stance, the client is the ‘expert’ on self while the facilitator is the ‘expert’ on theories and strategies for psychological and spiritual change. The two individuals then, brainstorm and work toward the best possible resolutions which emerge organically in the process, and are felt to be appropriate by the client.

As adults, we often forget how to ‘play'. The work of DW Winnicott, the English pediatrician and psychoanalyst, reminds us of the beauty and function of playing which involves fantasy, creativity and the flow of spiritual energy. We bring the unconscious to the conscious mind with the specific goal of moving toward desired changes in our lives as we nurture the healing process.

In this compassionate environment, healing is possible because the client develops an intention, and an attitude of responsibility for the journey toward transformation of self and the development of a satisfying life. Healing refers to the removal of the cause of a symptom through a shift in attitude and a transmutation of the negative energy associated with particular physical symptoms. 6 Tips For A More Compassionate Relationship

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