The path of not here


Have you ever picked up a cat who doesn’t want to be held? They squirm and protest and fight until you are forced to let go.

At that moment, the cat knows what it doesn’t want. As a safari tracker might say, it is on the path of “not here.”

When I see a cat in this state, I relate because it is how I felt the whole time I was training to be a psychotherapist.

I didn’t realise it at first, but I was on the path of not here.

I wanted to be a therapist. But I didn’t want to be that kind of therapist.

I found the approaches I was taught pathologising to the point of insulting.

I hated the one up, one down power relationship that put the therapist in a place of implicit authority over the client.

I questioned whether I wanted to be a therapist at all if this is what being a therapist was.

Yet that path of not here was profoundly useful. It taught me the path I didn’t want to be on. And by contrast, led me to the path I walk today.

I recall seeing a book on the shelf of a bookstore. The title stirred my soul as I fought the path of not here. The title was What’s Right With You. It called to a different path – one I could not have felt so keenly without the path of not here.

In sessions with clients, the path of not here is similarly guiding. When we do experiential work together, the client connects to their deepest knowings.

They connect to the path of not here. They use the path of not here to locate what they need instead.

They connect to the sophisticated nuances that separate the path of not here from the path of alignment.

No. Not quite that. This.

The difference between the path of not here and the path of exactly what we need is a mismatch. The discovery of both paths is the journey to the mismatch. Mismatches are key to triggering memory reconsolidation. And when we trigger it, we remove the trauma response completely and forever.

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