I got a letter in the mail recently from an insurance company asking for more information regarding the anesthesia therapy I provided. Hm, that’s odd. I know I sure as hell don’t do anything with anesthesia in my NYC therapy office. It turns out that the CPT code, a type of code insurance companies use to keep track of what medical services folks receive, was off by one digit. Therefore, instead of 45 minutes of individual psychotherapy, one of my therapy patients was asking for reimbursement for being put to sleep!
This was an easily remedied issue but it really made me think about the metaphor of this small error. Anesthesia is practically the exact opposite of therapy. In the times I have gone under the knife, I can remember vividly the moments where I waited for the drugs to kick in so I could go to sleep. Lying under the bright white lights looking over at the shiny, sterile tools, I thought, I am so glad I am going to be asleep for this.
In therapy, like surgery, there is change happening that is making you healthier. We may have to remove some emotional tumors that are growing and have become toxic to your body. And there may be moments where you feel like your guts are exposed and you are experiencing a great deal of pain. And I hate to break it to you, but I can’t put you to sleep for it. Pain is not a desired outcome of therapy but sometimes you need to walk through the fire in order to get to the other side.