Today I’m headed off to a conference—the International Integrative Psychotherapy Association’s biennial conference. As I prepare for the transition from my known day-to-day life here in Fort Collins, to a plane, and over to Spain for the gathering, I’m becoming more aware of my internal preparations.
You see, this is a small international conference—the organization has about 300 members, and about 150 attend the actual conference. It’s a rather intimate group because most of us have gotten together every two years. So, I know many of these people quite well.
The workshops at the conference are set up as three-hour sessions which are divided into two hour-and-a-half segments. The first 90 minutes are reserved for presentation and theory, and the second 90 minutes are reserved for live work.
This is a great process because we actually spend half our time doing in-depth clinical work with each other. Needless to say, we get to know each other at a very emotionally intimate level.
Returning to the conference this year, I’m feeling challenged to find the balance between presenting myself not only as a confident, competent, skilled clinician, but also as an open-hearted human being.
These are the same questions I think we all face in one way or another. In your life, you might have wondered to yourself:
(1) How do I present myself in this world? How do I stay open hearted and open to all of what life can bring? How do I face myself and all my feelings—my anxiety, my scared, my angry, my vital, my joyous, and my sad? How do I engage with all of these feelings internally while still experiencing all that life has to bring on the outside?
(2) How do I do these things while holding on to my adult self? How do I reach out for contact and support, without feeling overly dependent or needy? And how do I do this while still making myself available to the people who care about me, and whom I care about in return?
At this year’s conference, I hope my life is an easy balance–or as easy as I can make it. I hope I can shift between contact with my internal awareness and reach out bravely and kindly to the world around me to share my needs and my feelings. I hope I can trust that whatever happens, I’m enough; and I hope I’ll minimize my time in retreat from contact with the world.
Finally, if I am successful, I hope I can carry those approaches with me well beyond the conference walls.