My first time walking a labyrinth (a path designed in a sequential pattern leading into the centre and back out again) was high up on a mountain in New Zealand. Traditionally you think of a question or meditate on an idea as you walk but it is also interesting to just let your thoughts come and go randomly as I did on this occasion. I started from the outside towards the centre, walking lightly and mindfully…savouring the experience and enjoying the mesmerising mountain scenery.
Reflecting on this now reminds me of personal therapy: navigating the labyrinth as a metaphor for the therapeutic journey that goes on consciously and unconsciously between the patient and therapist. The work starts on the outside with talk of the practical, the everyday and immediate concerns and situations.
It takes time for the patient to feel able to talk of more personal matters, starting to uncover layers of feelings as the trust between the therapist and patient grows. Feeling safe and secure with the therapist, deeper exploration of issues and themes can emerge and greater self-awareness and insight about life and relationships is gained.
As in the labyrinth, at some point, the therapeutic path comes to an end. Gradually the patient begins to feel more secure, that they can stand on their own and see things more clearly. As therapy sessions move towards an ending, the work often returns to the external; more matter of fact issues of day to day life are considered and the path leads the patient back out of the labyrinth again with deeper understanding and acceptance of the self.