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Jennifer Talks About Her Own Therapy
Jennifer Speaks About Her Own Psychotherapy
While my character Jennifer, played by Laura Dern, says in The Tale in response to Martin saying she should do therapy, “I don’t want to see a therapist, I want to deal with this myself”, this just represents one moment in my life.
The truth is that I have done a lot of therapy during the course of my life, driven not just by the event in the film, but by many things I struggled with. I have found therapy and the support of therapists incredibly useful to help me survive and face many things in my life, both past and present. Even after making The Tale, which brought up new feelings about what happened to me at 13-years-old, I felt it was necessary to return to therapy and was lucky enough to work with two different trauma counselors, who helped me unpack another layer of the event and supported me in yet another layer of healing.
Therapy is incredibly valuable to help deal with trauma of all kinds, but not all therapy or therapist are created equal and not every type of therapy works for everyone, so it is important to find a person that is highly skilled, in a modality that fits your needs, and with whom you feel comfortable.
When I was younger I used to feel that I was doing therapy “to change myself” and to become a different person (although I couldn’t tell you who I wanted to become!) But the older I get, the less I feel that this is possible or even desirable. Now, I would say that the goal of therapy is to help each of us actualize our unique potential and our unique character, so the work in therapy is to help us become more our very selves.
Trauma often causes us to shut down or split off from our selves. Therapy can help us face what we couldn’t alone and help us begin to process the complexity of emotion that was previously intolerable. From my point of view, it’s impossible to completely erase the effects of trauma, but what we can do is soften the impact through understanding and inner work and emotional release. So, each time you work on yourself, you have another opportunity to peal another layer of the effect on you.
Not to be simplistic, but no one escapes trauma in this world, suffering is part of human existence. It is completely harmful to me that some purport that it is possible live life without trauma –– that’s unrealistic. We all have to learn to overcome the obstacles of life and ultimately to use these lessons to grow. My hope is to develop resilience. To me the goal of therapy is not to eliminate the impact of trauma but to make it usable, to be enriched by it.
But I do not limit myself to therapy only to heal. We can each use every modality we find to help our personal growth and healing. People who know me know that as well as doing many different types of therapy, I have also studied Tibetan Buddhism, done other forms of meditation, enjoy yoga, exercise, as well as being in a support group of women for many years. My point of view is ‘by any means necessary’. We all need to fight our own passivity and be proactive in facing the inner and outer obstacles that stop us from being the best we can be. I think of it like this: it’s up to each of us to find the ‘right medicine’ for ourselves to grow and to become free.
Filmmaker, THE TALE