man hiking through a green meadow with purple flowers emotional healing

How can we better come to understand the ways we hide ourselves to protect against the pain we’ve experienced – but which end up causing other problems? Where do we find emotional healing?

Strength in relationship

God designed our humanity in such a way that even from the very first moment of our existence, we are dependent upon other people to survive.

As humans made in the image of a trinitarian God who is a communion of persons, we aren’t meant to go through life alone. We’re made for communion – with God and with others. Or to put it simply, we are made out of relationship and for relationship. 

However (as I’m sure you’ve noticed) we live in a fallen world. And that means that those same relationships with others we are created for can also wound us deeply, causing tremendous pain and difficulty in our lives. 

How do we learn to heal from these relational wounds we carry? How can we better come to understand the ways we hide ourselves to protect against the pain we’ve experienced – but which end up causing other problems? 

Paradoxically, in relationship

A relationship with someone trained to help you uncover unhealthy ways of relating can help bring freedom and healing. This is what psychotherapy, counseling, or IDDM are meant to provide: a relationship where you can bring your insecurities, fears, regrets, guilt and shame. 

This kind of relationship can seem intrusive, foreign and taboo though. 

The idea of getting help can make us hesitant to do so because it seems to confirm there is something wrong with us. And what if someone found out we were getting help and judged us harshly?

What’s more, how can embracing our pain in the presence of someone we don’t know (or can’t see) lead to healing? 

I’d like to address some of these concerns by offering perspective from my experience of walking with others in hopes of removing some of the common stumbling blocks standing in the way of people receiving the care they need. 

Strength in vulnerability

a person standing at the edge of view with a bigger image of their silhouette overlayed

Let’s clear up some of the fears, doubts and misperceptions.

Wounds. We all have them.  We live in a world filled with the “walking-wounded.” Many people live with the pain of depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction and so much more, believing the lie that their experience is the best that life has to offer. 

Others search desperately for emotional healing in many areas of their life but don’t find what they are looking for. In both cases, people do not receive the care that they need.

But just like when someone receives medical treatment for diabetes, strep throat, or bronchitis, so too can people receive mental health treatment for emotional afflictions.

Psychotherapy, counseling, and the daily accompaniment of Mentorship is meant to facilitate the healing of emotional wounds, just like the medical field provides healing for physical ailments.

While the interior life is mysterious, it is not unknowable; there are reasons why we feel what we feel and do what we do.

Emotional healing through companionship of Mentors

A trained professional can help navigate through the confusion of our minds to untangle mistaken perceptions of who we are. 

At the core of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is the search for some “good” that we believe will make us happy. The proper insight into the motivation of these psychological realities can help us sort out our lives instead of being trapped in feelings of self-hatred, doubt, confusion, anger, hopelessness, and loneliness. 

The therapist (or Mentor in our case) serves as a guide to help the wounded soul out of a maze of confusion and onto a path to healing. They can help develop insight into your true self, which includes identifying such realities as self-worth, meaning, and personal values. 

The guide can also spot potholes along the path that would usually go unnoticed. 

Without such help, these stumbling blocks can continue to trip us up, perpetuating a cycle of emotional pain, instead of promoting emotional healing.

But trusting the guide to help lead us can be another stumbling block. People in our past may have hurt us when we trusted them before, and the fear of that happening again is understandable.   

Catholic perspective

a dark room with a doorway illuminating light into the entrance

Our current media culture reinforces this mistrust with a world of tabloids, talk shows, and People Magazine, where gossip and slander desecrate our inner selves in the name of entertainment. It is no wonder why true human intimacy feels hindered. 

Many wear masks and shy away from revealing themselves to others out of fear of being hurt, disrespected, and desecrated.

Our Catholic faith offers us an alternative perspective. 

My training as a therapist and my experience as a Mentor has awakened in me a spirit of reverence for the interior life, as it provides us with a sense of the human soul. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church beautifully explains that “the ‘soul’ refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image” (CCC 363). 

Therefore, each person’s interior life is a sacred house, and reverence and respect should always be observed when someone reveals their interiority to the world. 

Because the interior life of each person is such a sacred and fragile reality, it should be cared for with a gentle hand; the relationship between myself and my clients should be a hopeful and safe space that recognizes the presence of the Lord.

I witness the essence of human beauty, resilience, and goodness, and I am continuously awed by the privilege of such an invitation to help heal in this sacred space. 

With this as a starting point, my hope is that all of those I work with – and all those our team works with –  find security in knowing that a truly Catholic approach to psychotherapy will always respect the dignity of each person’s interior self.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
And He brought them out of their distress. 
He caused the storm to be still, 
So that the waves of the sea were hushed. 
Then they were glad because they were quiet. 
So He guided them to their desired haven”

(Psalm 107:28-30).

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