Confessions of an Introverted Psychotherapy Nerd.
I’m an introverted psychotherapy nerd.
I know there are other ways to live. But I don’t care.
I’ve been a client in some type of therapy since I turned 31. I’ve tried it all.
Rebirthing. Holotropic breath work. Support groups. 12 Steps. Talk. Journaling. Attachment theory. Jungian analysis. Enneagram. CBT. EMDR. EFT. Bodywork. Acupressure. Energywork. Hakomi. Shamanic journeying. Grief Work. Reiki. Fly fishing. Bioenergetics. Art. Nature. Naturopathy. Psychodrama. Astrology. Couples counseling. Somatic experiencing. Massage. Soul collage. Meditation. Mindfulness. Yoga. Dreamwork. Diving into the abyss. Blogging.
Okay, blogging isn’t therapy per se, although it’s therapeutic for me.
I used to think that I was deficient because I spent most of my time introspecting. I didn’t have much of an outer life. I didn’t join a bowling league. Or get season tickets to the opera. I didn’t follow the Grateful Dead around the country. I didn’t own a blender or a table cloth. I didn’t send my nonexistent kids to college. I almost didn’t have partners.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. A little. I did take breaks from introspection. I was a teacher of gifted children for a number of years. An actress in community theater for about a decade. Danced the Argentine tango in Paris. Wrote angsty emails to attentive girlfriends. Married. Divorced. Watched my niece and nephew grow up.
I have loved. I’ve been loved.
See, I’ve done stuff.
But I can’t deny the truth. When it comes down to it, I am excessively, undeniably, inner-focused. And it can appear a little weird. But hey, there is a heck of a lot going on in my psyche. It’s really lively in there. Very entertaining.
So, after a few years as a client, it occurred to me that I ought to just become a psychotherapist. I had so much experience! And this would be the ideal career path for an introverted psychotherapy nerd.
So, that’s exactly what I did.
And, because of my background teaching gifted kids, I decided to specialize in counseling the gifted. These are individuals with what I call rainforest minds. Like the rainforest, they are deeply complex, highly sensitive, smart, and capable of making a contribution to the planet if they aren’t cut down and forced to be something that they’re not.
And now that I am a psychotherapist, I have a good reason to continue to be living the introverted lifestyle. I get to put my experience as a client to good use. I get to guide brave souls into their abyss and show them around. So they see what they need to see. Feel what they need to feel. Find out who they really are. Then I guide them out of their abyss to live their authentic life and find their purpose(s).
One person at a time. Deeply introspective. No small talk.
Then, about four years ago, I discovered blogging. Writing a blog for rainforest-minded folks is also a fine way to be an introverted psychotherapy nerd. I get to meet fabulous humans living all over the world who want to deeply understand their own nerdly-ness. And I don’t have to leave my living room.
What could be better?
But why am I writing all of this, you ask? Am I justifying my somewhat unconventional life to you? Am I a teensy weensy defensive because I still don’t have a table cloth?
And what does this have to do with being gifted? Are all rainforest-minded souls introverted, introspective abyss-divers?
No. Some are extraverted, introspective abyss-divers.
The rainforest-minded are complex thinkers. Deep feelers. Analytical. Seeking self-understanding. Questioning. Empathetic. Highly sensitive. Striving to live meaningful lives. Wanting to create a better world.
But I understand. They aren’t necessarily in therapy. Or introverted. They may have very active, even conventional, outer lives. Kids. Opera tickets. Blenders.
But still, here’s the thing. If you are an introvert, if you have one nerd-like obsession or many, if you feel weird and deficient, if you’re leading an unconventional life, and if you never get that table cloth or that blender, meet me in Oregon. We’ll go bowling.
Paula Prober is a licensed counselor, consultant, author, blogger, and tango dancer in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. She’s spent over 30 years working with gifted youth and adults in her practice and in schools, universities, at conferences and webinars. Paula invented the expression ‘rainforest mind’ to describe humans who are highly sensitive, intense, curious, smart, and misunderstood. She consults internationally with rainforest-minded adults and parents of gifted children. Her book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016. She blogs at Your Rainforest Mind, a blog in support of the excessively curious, creative, smart and sensitive.