Ashwood Therapy Blog

Regeneration and Regrowth

Long before I trained as a psychotherapist I had a conversation with a manager of a health and beauty shop here in the U.K. about the re-branding his company was undergoing.  The new logo for the chain incorporated an image of a starfish (or sea star, depending on where you are right now).  At first, I thought that the choice was for purely aesthetic reasons yet I was intrigued to find out that there was a story behind choosing the starfish to feature in the refreshed company image.

It seems that starfish have the ability to regenerate when injured, and can grow a new limb if one is lost.  The rationale behind the choice to use a starfish in the health and beauty branding was that it signified regeneration and regrowth.  Now, many years later, I often think of that conversation and of the starfish’s ability to heal itself when I consider the person-centred therapeutic process.  We as humans cannot regenerate a limb if lost, of course, yet I have witnessed on many occasions regeneration of a different type in my work with clients.

Clients may seek out therapeutic support after they have become bereaved, feel quite down about things or perhaps feel stuck with a sense of something being ‘not quite right’.  I would argue that, with support, we are all capable of moving forward and into a new place, given the opportunity.  It’s not that the therapist puts the ability to rejuvenate into the client, but more that the therapist activates the client’s natural ability to grow which may have become temporarily stalled.

As you may already be aware, the person-centred approach to psychotherapy is based on the belief that when a person is struggling with a particular issue or state of affairs, being in a relationship with a therapist who displays certain qualities can be experienced as restorative and promoting of positive transformation.  Those qualities are, of course, empathy, unconditional positive regard and genuineness.  Over time, and through a trusting alliance, new thoughts and ways of perceiving the world can be developed that are in line with how the client experiences their situation.  While these new perceptions and ways of being may be less noticeable initially than the starfish’s fully regrown limb, I would argue that they are no less remarkable or life-changing when experienced at first-hand.

Rob Oglesby MBACP (Accred) B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy

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Regeneration and Regrowth | Ashwood Therapy Blog