How to be Your Own Therapist

How to be your own therapistBe your own therapist? This is what you need to know

My approach to counseling is about creating psychological flexibility- the ability to essentially be your own therapist. If you can remember the parts of a butterfly, you are well on your way to understanding the elements of what psychological flexibility is.

Our psychological flexibility is like a butterfly. A butterfly has two wings (in this example) and a body in the middle. Each wing flutters in sync and they attach to the body, which is like the hub and hinge of it all. Without the body, the wings are useless. Without each wing, the creature falls to the ground and spins in circles. (Sad picture, but stay with me here).

We all have painful and unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and habits that get in the way of just about everything. We have to be able to cope with these feelings and thoughts as they come. Many people can see clearly that this is necessary, and enter therapy searching for a way to do just this. Working with these thoughts and feelings is one wing of our butterfly.

The second wing balances the other. It is the important stuff; our goals and meaningful things we do that make our lives vital. It’s going in the direction that is healthy and good for you. It’s knowing what direction that would be, and what we’d be doing more of to get there. Sometimes folks are aware that they need something like this, but may have no idea how to figure that out and create change.

In the middle is our butterfly body. This anchors and powers our two wings of strength and meaning. The body is our ability to be present and have a helpful rather than a rigid story about ourselves and our struggles. Being able to notice when one of the wings is off and what needs to be done to fly well  are the hinges that keep the butterfly going.  That’s where you learn how to be your own therapist. Many people come to therapy craving some way to learn how to make themselves feel better. They want to see what the problem is and what to do about it.

Two wings and a body, and you have a beautiful analogy of psychological flexibility. Any issue, from actual diagnosed mental illnesses to relationship struggles and stress, call for psychological flexibility. Wouldn’t you like to have a mind like a butterfly? Strength, meaning, and presence. To be able to float, change course, land quietly, and make fine tuned adjustments in your life. Flexible enough to dream of new possibilities and strong enough to deal with what gets in the way.

If you are like many folks who feel more like that butterfly going in circles on the ground, I’d love to help you increase your psychological flexibility in your life and relationships.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

Reader Interactions


  1. Kat, The metaphor of a butterfly is so fitting for the interplay of values and commitment to living a life in service of those values. The purpose of helping people learn to be psychologically flexible is a life-long gift of independence and freedom. The knowing we can make a choice to be-ing in relation in a way that is true to our hearts is the direction I am willing to take even if it causes me some discomfort.

    • Hi Brenda, thanks for visiting! I love how you say it’s a life long gift, that’s really what I wanted to get at. Being your own therapist, to me, is the ability to navigate with freedom. What better gift!

    • Thanks for coming by Jenny! I’m glad you like the metaphor, and I’m sure you have plenty of them yourself! Care to share one here real quick? 🙂

  2. Hi Kat, just want to echo what others said about how meaningful and fitting the metaphor of a butterfly is. It’s so beautiful and to me represents freedom and yes, flexibility. Great idea!

    • Thanks Kate! I’m so happy that people are finding it fitting! I know you use a lot of ACT stuff with clients as well, and I know it can be a little difficult to explain to people what this approach is all about. I’ll be excited to hear about how this metaphor takes on a life of its own if people start to use it with clients. If you or anyone else uses this metaphor, I’d love you to come back and let me know if you see other angles or deepen it. How the butterfly represents freedom to you is a deeper way of looking at the symbolism of a butterfly in general, very neat. Thanks for stopping by!

Leave a Reply