"The Truth will set you free" (anonymous)
Once when I was in session with my first therapist, he said to me: "You are like me. A connection junkie." I didn't fully jive with his choice of words, but on a deep level I understood what he means, and I knew that he's right.
I chose the expression 'Connection Heals' as the (informal) name of my brand because I think that on the one hand it describes a universal truth, while at the same time alluding to my personal and professional philosophy and practice. I wanted to clarify the spirit I have behind this choice, and my relationship with these two words.
I have been practicing various branches of Buddhism for the past 15 years. Buddhists don't generally talk about connection. The essence of Buddhadharma is that all things are empty of an independent, separate self. There are no things. If there are no actual things, how would they connect? This non-dualistic vision of reality transcends connection, and is the ultimate frontier of realization, as far as I'm concerned.
Therapy is by nature relational and dialogic, which is to say it occurs between two or more beings. It takes place within the context of an encounter, the meeting of two worlds that are unknown to one another, and in the process of becoming more familiar to each other they hopefully become more whole and humane. I do not consider the dualistic possibility of an encounter to be antithetical to the totalistic insight of non-duality. The relative world is not mutually exclusive with the absolute. Samsara and Nirvana are one. Freedom comes not from abandoning the relative world, but from not clinging to its elements. Even the awakened beings come back to serve and support those who are suffering.
"Before enlightenment, carry water, chop wood. After enlightenment, carry water, chop wood." Zen proverb
In my vocabulary, connection is a synonym for the sacred. True encounter is a hierophany, a revelation. Connection is the epiphany that although we are in two disparate bodies, with two unique sets of histories, we are of one essence, one wisdom, one Prima Materia. This is the truth that sets you free, and therapy is just one of many containers where it can be cultivated. It happens to be a singularly effective one, as the trust, humility, inquiry, compassion, and candour that are necessary requisites for connection are also the conditions that allow for ethical and effective psychotherapy.
I have long taken particular exception to using the verb 'healing' to describe therapy, and really, most other 'healing' professions. I always felt that the word has an unavoidable power-element to it: "I heal you, I am the healer, you are the healed, I am above, you are below. I possess the power, you need me." I have always vocally protested against translating therapy as healing, even though some dictionaries trace the origin of the word to that source. In fact the actual root of the modern word is in the Greek 'therapeia' (see e.g. Etymonline) which means 'to attend, to take care of' and the derivation seems to be that when I attend to your needs you will become healed. That says nothing about me healing you, instead is a description of creating an optimal container for recovery. In fact a closer approximation to the original meaning would be to say I serve my clients, which is in fact the term some therapists use to describe their work.
I much prefer the angle that R.D. Laing took on healing (in a BBC Radio Interview called "The Lies of Love"). He refers back to the first translation of the Holy Bible by John Wycliffe, who in the place of the Holy Spirit of the Trinity used "Our Healthy Spirit." Laing points to the etymological connections between healing, whole, and holy. To be whole is to be holy, and to be healed is to be made whole. Becoming hole is to be endowed with Our Healthy Spirit, the spirit that is shared and is whole, healthy, and is our bridge to one another and to the Divine.
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20
Connection is the vehicle for the recognition of one-ness/non-duality, that is the experience of wholeness, which is the experience that heals. If we can be whole together, we have a better chance of being whole when we are apart. It is the lived experience of connection, the actual mind-blowing recognition of this truth that I believe is the highest that therapy can offer, and it is what I strive to grow my practice around.