Heaven knows what possessed him do it.  HIs Managing Director had spotted that his company van looked like it had been driven through the Somme and told him to clean it.  The spring sunshine had highlighted the glutinous mud even more.

So he did.  A carwash would have been fine.  Or a bucket of water.  But why a Brillo pad?  Quite a few people would have stopped once three layers of paint had been stripped off and the bare metal gouged in circles, but he kept going.  You’d have thought he might have felt there was something not right long before the whole vehicle had been gone over.  But no.  Only at that point, it seems, did the penny drop.

Where the error was compounded was in the remedy.  Green paint.  Fair enough, the van had been green.  But it hadn’t originally got that way with a paintbrush.

The definition of a Crash Team is a group of medical practitioners standing by to resuscitate patients who have suffered cardiac or respiratory failure.  That’s what the Managing Director required in the car park the next morning.

Spring cleaning

He survived to tell the tale to this day so I’m afraid this is a true but unusual story about spring cleaning.  Spring cleaning more commonly applies to houses and involves pulling things out, airing things, putting things in order and then putting them back, perhaps rearranged.

And in all of that it resembles psychotherapy.

Pulling out and airing

Psychotherapy is about taking stock of things and making a fresh start.  About admitting there are things that don’t seem right in us, that are dragging us down or holding us back and then wanting to make changes.  Therapy has been called a talking cure and the talking can happen either with a therapist or with a therapist plus members of a therapy group.  Over time, and as confidence and trust develop, it becomes possible for things to be pulled out and aired, as with spring cleaning.  In other words, the events of one’s life, along with difficult and perhaps hitherto buried feelings and thoughts, can be brought into the light of day.  There they can be thought about, felt, worked with and processed.  Curiously, part of the processing may entail exploring how some of what comes out influences the relationship with the therapist.

Putting things in order

The hope is that a thorough analysis of the past and present – putting things in order – can take place and sense can be made of it.  Not only that but therapy also aspires to bring a degree of lasting change and even healing.  (The word ‘psychotherapy’ means ‘healing of the mind’).

Rearranging and putting back

As you might imagine, it’s not a fast process.  It often takes time for difficulties to get established in someone and so it takes time for therapy to work.  And it needs regular, weekly, fixed sessions.  But, if all goes well, what has been brought out and aired can gradually be put back but maybe now significantly rearranged.  Although there can be no guarantees, it’s certainly not uncommon to hear individuals leaving therapy say they feel very different people to when they began.

Springtime for spring cleaning?

As for when to try it, well that depends on the level of need and when you feel ready.  But if all things are equal, spring can be a good time because it’s about new life and new beginnings.

And by the way, the therapeutic approach is quite gentle.  No Brillo pads.