I’ll give you three months,” Rosemary announced, shaking my hand and plunking herself down on the couch. “I’ve done therapy before, and I don’t want to go digging around into childhood stuff or anything like that.”
Ugh, I cringed inwardly. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear at the onset of my first session with a new client. She’d set the timer for tangible, lasting results, and the clock was ticking. I knew I wouldn’t have the luxury of gradually letting therapy unfold, and I’d already seen the shortcomings of many of the techniques out there for effecting the quick change she demanded. I’d regularly used gratitude journals, appreciation letters, yoga, and meditation to jump-start therapy, but I knew that these techniques, in themselves, often had limited effects.
My experience as a therapist had shown me many times over that if you really want to help people open a doorway to a different way in life, therapy needs to give them powerful experiences—positive ones. Low-energy encounters with a therapist just don’t make enough of an impact to create real change. So I’d even gone so far as to create retreats where people could swim with wild dolphins, pet whales, and firewalk. These were certainly powerful experiences, but they didn’t have the staying power I was looking for.
Then I saw a picture that captured the experiential intensity that can make a real difference in people’s lives. It showed a group of boys playing soccer on a pile of…