Why Does Your Story Matter?
“We are healed by our stories.” – Terry Tempest Williams
Our aim is that the culmination of a holistic approach and striving for your peak mental health is ultimately to find hope and meaning through your story. Your story is not simply the events and circumstances that outline your life. It is not your latest instagram post. It is much more. Your story is how you make meaning of those events, and the transitions between them. Your story helps you understand where you’ve been, where you want to go and how to get there.
Finding Meaning in Your Story
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brene Brown
Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust, is the pioneer of an approach to healing called Logotherapy. Essentially, Logotherapy revolves around finding meaning in your life. Meaning can be found through purpose, connection, belonging, and understanding our story and how it can be a part of a larger story. More contemporary approaches are known as Positive Psychology, Existential Psychology and Humanistic Psychology. Simply put, by finding meaning in your story you can change your narrative to embrace the growth, change and connection that your story has to offer. Elements of some of the best evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Narrative Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can all be used in an approach to help you derive greater meaning in your story.
Expressing your Story
Once you have articulated a narrative that makes meaning from your life events, it can be helpful to be able to share this as a form of connection with others, if even just one person. We not only find healing through our stories but can help others in sharing our stories with them. This can be a powerful experience. Sometimes working with an artist or tapping into your inner artist can help you further articulate your journey. There are beautiful examples of people sharing their story through writing, painting, sculpture, pottery, music and other mediums of artistic expression. If this were ever something you were interested in, we would love to help partner you with an artist to express your story. Upon request, we can provide examples of stories that have been shared artistically.
Dr. Burson's Story
A long held belief within psychotherapy is that the therapist should be a blank slate, one who you know very little about so that you are not encumbered by your therapist’s story but can focus on your story. I believe there is truth to this approach and that it has value.
However, the blank slate theory can create false stories, which can also be damaging. It can be normal for patients to have inaccurate assumptions that they are alone in their struggles. Physicians are not the sum of their titles, credentials and accomplishments, although this may be the story that is left by the blank slate. We are people too. We experience many of the same joys and sufferings that are part of life. We have insecurities and vulnerabilities; have children that throw fits in supermarkets, family members with cancer, marriages that require work, sinks with dirty dishes and yes, we too get sick.
If you believe it may be healing or helpful to know a little about my journey and how it has lead to a story of meaning and hope I am happy to share a brief written reflection of my story. Just ask. I simply want you to know I am willing to meet you where you are at, whether you think it would be helpful to preserve the blank slate or it would be helpful to know more about me.