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What do Pulling Weeds and Therapy have in Common?

I like to bring metaphors into therapy. It is often helpful to relate a client’s internal emotions to tangible things that are known concretely. My family was pulling weeds in our backyard and I got to thinking. The work of getting rid of the weeds is a lot like tending to ourselves in therapy. 

3 three different types of weeds I noticed were the ones that:

  1. Came right up

  2. Are so deep that the root is left behind when tugged on.

  3. Are showing above ground in one place, but have sprouted roots in different places than expected.

You’ve likely encountered these different experiences if you pull weeds in your yard. If not, bear with me. There is a relation to the healing process in therapy, which I will explain in the following paragraphs. Clients often come in with “weeds” that need to be tended to. (Please note: Any case example I use has been modified to protect client confidentiality.) 

What’s Visible

Presenting problems client’s come in with are sometimes surface issues, such as misunderstandings or behavioral problems. The solution is usually to set small and achievable changes that manage the symptoms quickly. For instance, some client’s struggle with time management. While there might be a deeper issue at hand, it is helpful to find ways to bring relief to the client. Small changes for time management would look like using a planner or blocking out the same time every day to knock out a particular task.

The Root

Other times, the issue is not found so easily. Different parts of client’s problems are deeply rooted in their soul. In order to avoid experiencing the symptoms of these issues, clients have to work hard by digging down to the root to remove the problem. It’s not effective to tug at the surface. For instance, a young adult female comes in for depression and low self-esteem after a break up. At first, it may appear that she needs to rebuild her body confidence and gain perspective. However, those attempts at healing are not fruitful because her current feelings are tied directly to the abandonment that occurred years ago when her father left.

The Unexpected

The problems that clients often want to work on are also a lot like the weeds that take you for a little surprise. It’s almost like it takes you down a rabbit trail. For example, a couple comes in for parenting support. They report that life would feel better if they could just relate with their daughter. When they examined and tugged on that weed, they found themselves tracking down a path of other issues that seem to be attached. They realized that they have been distracted by their children. They found that it would be helpful to address their inability to communicate with each other, which has lead to years of undermining their parenting choices.

No matter what type of weed it is, when the work is done, our backyard is a more enjoyable place. It was hard work and I was exhausted after pulling weeds in the hot sun. That night we were able to have friends in the backyard, and it was so nice to see our children playing in a well kept yard. I think clients feel the same joy when they can look back at the work they do in therapy, and realize that they are in a happier place internally than they were before. 

Give Amy Wine Counseling Center a call at 832-421-8714 if you have questions about our therapeutic services or would like to schedule an appointment. 


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