The Hero’s Journey and Psychotherapy.

the heros journey and psychotherapy

The hero's journey and psychotherapy.

The hero's jouney is not unlike the journey patients go on in therapy.

A friend is writing a novel. (Cool, hey!)

I was curious to know how authors create a storyline. 

He explained the concept of the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is used in films and books–think Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Disney films, etc.

I’m not a fan of structure in therapy, but the hero’s journey caught my attention. As he was talking, my mind wandered and I thought of the journey patients go through in therapy.

What is the hero’s journey? It goes a little something like this

  • The hero of a story experiences a call to adventure. Something is not quite right in their lives. They experience a problem or face a challenge. The hero is then presented with an opportunity to embark on a journey.

In therapy, a patient is experiencing emotional difficulty. They’re lost, confused, and in a state of suffering that they feel compelled to explore.

  • Embarking on a journey, the hero then crosses the threshold. From the know, familiar world, and enters the unknown.

By engaging in therapy, the patient does not know what to expect. What challenges they’ll face? What difficult emotions will be stirred up? Their unconscious awaits. They enter the unknown.

  • The hero meets a mentor at the beginning of their quest. This mentor helps them navigate the journey. The mentor does not provide answers but guides them as they enter the unknown.

Like therapy, the patient engages with a therapist who acts as a guide. The therapist does not provide them with answers or information. Rather, the therapist supports them on their journey as they delve into the unknown.

  • The hero faces many challenges on their path to growth, self-realisation, and discovery. They encounter many obstacles and tests to prove their worthiness.

In therapy, the patient turns toward their suffering. They may face their biggest fears. Or uncover unconscious processes that must be explored on their path to self-actualisation. Often, they themselves are their biggest enemy.

  • Having overcome many obstacles, the hero is transformed. They gain revelations and new insights about themselves. Discovering the solution to their problem. Often, the solution to their problem was with them from the start.

In therapy, the patient gains insight into their difficulties. Using this newfound insight, they see their problem in a new light. The patient can name and own the once-foreign aspects of themselves.

  • The journey back home. The hero atones for their behaviour. With their newfound insights, they put right any wrongs. Their self-discoveries and internal transformations are more important than the initial external motivation.

In therapy, the patient has improved relationships with others, and, with themselves. Their symptoms may reduce. The newfound insight is more important than what they initially sought therapy for.

  • The hero is now resilient. And has the ability to face further challenges and tribulations. Until the next adventure….

The patient terminates therapy. They are confident with their insight and ability to face further challenges themselves.

I try to remember the hero’s journey when I sense the patient is feeling stuck, or lost. The patient does not need answers or information. They need a supportive, encouraging relationship. So they can go further in their self-exploration and self-discovery.

Let me know your experience below.

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