As a therapist, I often wonder how to maximize the work I do with people. Forty five minutes a week of therapy is not much. You might get the initial “hit” of enlightenment, closeness, catharsis, empowerment, and so on but in order for those 45 minutes of therapy to really work their magic, the work needs to be continual. When you leave the space and hit the streets of NYC, what happens? When your anxiety and depression is so present and feels overpowering, where is our work?
This led me to think about time-release medication. I first took time-release meds about 5 years ago. I had an awful case of bronchitis and was pleasantly surprised when I picked up my prescription and saw a tab of just a few pills. Before that, the doctor would always give me a bottle full of something I needed to try to remember take many times throughout the day, preferably with food. This is not something I thought much about until recently. A patient returned to my Tribeca therapy office after some time away and I found myself doing many double takes in our first few sessions back. In her time away from therapy, she had grown so much and had clearly integrated a lot of really hard stuff we had been working on.
Time-release pills are designed to release a steady stream of a drug into your system over a certain period of time instead of an instant hit. This can be especially useful for continual suppression of unwanted symptoms and can ensure that you experience the least pain and discomfort possible. In time-release medication, the active ingredient is usually concealed in a ‘web’ of insoluble substances, so that the dissolving substance has to find its way through the gaps in the web. What is the active ingredient in therapy?
As an art therapist, creating images and objects can give me a bit of a leg up in this process. Artwork can serve as a transitional object and a physical way for you to remember our work and what that means. But this issue is still a challenging one and one the answer needs to be built. In the form of words, laughter, tears, art making, and our connection, these are the things you can take with you.