Finding a Way Through: One Person’s Journey to Redeeming Pain through Learning the Art, Skill, and Science of Processing by Doing Therapy

Erin Sesemann, Therapist, Boone, NC

Dr. Erin Sesemann, PhD, LMFT, CBIS (she/her/hers) takes a holistic approach to counseling with her specialized training in Medical Family Therapy, EMDR therapy, and certification as a Brain Injury Specialist. Her office is based in Boone, North Carolina, offering in-person and online therapy to people across North Carolina.

How can therapy help me? If this is one of the questions standing between you and beginning therapy or if you are simply curious. Start here!

This blog shares what one client has volunteered about her personal journey. How she experienced therapy, what about therapy was helpful to her, and some details of the process. Exploring the journey of others through therapy is one way to become more comfortable with the idea of yourself in therapy and to seriously consider the challenging question of how therapy helps. The story expressed below is the client’s own words. 

The ‘Before’ Therapy

All through life I have faced circumstances, both consequential and environmental, with a certain dispossessed air. The attitude that life happens and one mostly goes on; coping as best as one can, with what one cannot change.

Until that stopped working for me. 

When a significant trauma impacted me at work, everything changed. No longer could I continue my professional work, no longer could I ignore deeply painful realities in my marriage, and no longer could I dispassionately ignore the anomalies and wounds within my unconventional childhood.

My world as I knew it imploded and I was found in foreign territory without a map or even a way to put words to describe what I was seeing, feeling, or experiencing. It was a scary and lonely place dominated by despair, disappointment, depression, and an overwhelming sense of being powerless. I did not know where to begin, how to deal, and my familiar coping mechanisms became useless.

The Start of Therapy

Unfortunately, Erin’s office was not the start of my journey. After a referral from a reconstruction specialist, I had a negative experience with an intern psychologist. I bounced through a few unsuitable pairings before the gracious efforts of an understanding psychiatrist linked me a Social Worker who in time paired me with Erin Sesemann. While I of course wish I had found her sooner; I am grateful that the opportunity to work together happened.

When my therapist Erin entered the picture. She met me where I was but did not join me. Instead, with an artful combination of observation and active listening she began to draw the lines of a safe harbor. Instead of repeating back to me, suggesting or advising, or telling me how theory should inform my way-finding, she operated differently.

How Therapy Helped Me

My therapist honored my storytelling by both affirming and challenging the information that surfaced. Where I brought incoherence and confusion she found patterns, brought customized professional method, space, and let me set the pace. Where all I saw was another looming obstacle or another deep descent, she saw a much more colorful wide-angle and 3D picture. She taught me how to use/employ process to uncover possibility.

As I began to practice new approaches and ways to assess and see, multiple things began to change. Painful experience began to find their place in my story, recognition of my strengths and weaknesses was enlarged, confidence began to be restored, and steadily and slowly mindsets that didn’t serve me were replaced with thinking patterns that assisted in building the future I wanted for my daughter and I. Methods of processioning information began to serve as geo-locators for way-finding in this new territory.

two women with hands up talking in therapy setting

The ‘After’ Therapy

I have been skilled through therapy; my own toolbox has been stocked with a variety of practical approaches that I can now utilize as needed. Such as being less reactive in volatile situations, enhanced communication abilities, need identification, boundary setting, the gift of giving myself time to process and absorb big changes and shifts, better self-care, fewer outbursts in anger and many more. These take into account take my narrative history, unique personality, health realities, faith, and the way my mind works. These continue to enhance my life in every role I undertake (for example, as a mother, educator, daughter, sister, and woman).

Instead of simply giving me the gift of being heard; I have been allowed to grow, grow, and grow. I have grown past old perspectives that don’t serve me and, when through force of habit I fall back into that place, I now have the tools to reassess the situation and change my own mind. I have practice taking new ‘problems’ and approaching them for a new, creative outcome. I have learned what I can do to ‘neutralize’ risks after identifying things that place me in vulnerable scenarios. My negotiation skills are much better in challenging work environments. I feel I can advocate for myself without being domineering or reduced to a ‘victim’ role. I feel more confident in what I bring to the table in relationships including a clearer understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. I have a fuller understanding of how life’s wounding experiences can negatively or positively impact my future. I also have a deeper self-awareness in general and a deeper sense of my place and purpose.

I did not walk into therapy with big expectations, only an awareness that the way I had of ‘doing’ things wasn’t working anymore or serving me any longer. My experience of therapy was one of non-critical ‘seeing’. The reasons ‘why’ were explored gently yet thoroughly. I was not always ‘right’ and I learned to self-evaluate my reactions (thought and emotion and action). Since undertaking therapy, I feel my relationships across the spectrum have benefited from what I have learned as have I! I feel more self-aware, more calm, surer of myself, with a peace that I am capable of creatively facing the challenges life uncovers along the path.  


Personal Comments on my Therapist

I believe from my personal experience that what Erin will do is walk alongside, offer skilled professional insight, present alternatives, and ask questions. Her keen mind and intellect bring personalized effective frameworks to assist. I cannot express how valuable her clinical approach has been. I am exceedingly grateful for the privilege of having access to a professional as deeply committed to nurturing healing in individuals, families, and communities. I recommend her services without reservation. Confident that she will most certainly bring the same deep wisdom, professional experience, keen insight, sharp intellect and compassion to each client encounter.

If you’re still wondering whether therapy is for you, then check out these blogs:

Contact the Boone, North Carolina office today for a free consultation. In person appointments are available to residents of North Carolina and online therapy is available for residents in North Carolina and South Carolina.

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