We’ve been very much enjoying the TV show Being Erica, and have seen all but the final episode. If you have not watched all of the episodes, you may want to save the remainder of this blog post to read later, if you prefer not to have key plot points spoiled before you get to enjoy them for yourself first.
In the fourth and final season of the show, Erica goes to the next stage of her therapy, and actually begins to undergo training to become a doctor herself. In her apprenticeship under her therapist, Dr. Tom, she goes through some training experiences to teach her some of the principles of therapy. Two of the key principles she learns are:
You are your patient : This is the same idea in Heilkunst, and the basis for “participating the patient”, where one relatively healthy person (the therapist) is able to relate to and resonate with any and all qualities of the patient, even if these are dark or undesirable. As the expression goes, “You get what you need, not what you want”, and the therapist is certain to come face to face with any shadow aspect of themselves they have not integrated into their conscious identity, and have to delve into such issues in a patient who shows up in their practice.
You are not your patient : Yes, the opposite is also true for the therapist — this principle means that they cannot expect their patient (or anyone, for that matter) to behave, think, or feel the way that they would about a given situation. The morals of the therapist, tastes, and judgments in life cannot be expected to be mirrored by the patient, who is their own unique person, and will navigate their life in their own way. The job of the therapist is to bring the patient to their own form of highest health and expression, and not to be moulded to be a replica of the therapist.
Also, just as in Heilkunst, the doctor or therapist-in-training must also undergo their own ongoing therapy as part of keeping their own health evolving, and moving forward through their issues, so that they have an ever greater capacity to help patients with theirs.