I enjoy reading – fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, magazines, even textbooks sometimes. If you follow this blog then you are going to hear a lot about my reading and how it relates to my work with clients. Often when I read something that connects to my work in some way, I want to share it with you.
I recently read a book by Katherine May called Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times which chronicles a year in the author’s life dealing with depression. May describes a period of her life where she had lost her voice and literally struggled to speak for more than a few minutes before going hoarse. A friend of hers suggested that she take singing lessons in order to strengthen her voice, and since she had been a vocalist in the past, this made sense to her and she found a singing instructor and began lessons. Ultimately, she does find a renewed strength and clarity in her voice and she reflects on what it means to have a voice (literally and metaphorically) and to sing for the joy of singing.
When I read about May’s singing lessons, I thought about my clients who are reluctant to enter therapy, who may have given up on their own voices. I thought about people who may have lost their ability to speak their own truth, even to themselves; people who have shouted their truth from the highest mountain only for no one to listen and then falling silent in their suffering; people who have lost the joy in their lives, ground down by one bad experience after another, their singing voices left crackling and raw.
Perhaps therapy is like taking singing lessons: a way to find your voice, to speak out loud what you have held inside, to find the joy of connection and harmony with others, to be seen and heard. There is no shame in learning to sing, no shame in finding a coach to teach you about standing up straight, how to control your breath, learning about pitch and volume and phrasing. There is no shame in seeking help to find your own voice, whether you call it singing lessons or therapy.
For people who don’t want to tell others that they are going to therapy, perhaps they should tell their friends and family that they are taking singing lessons instead. It might be the very same thing in the end.