The Roots and Rootedness of Therapy

The Roots and Rootedness of Therapy
Thinking about Therapy?
Take our quiz to see therapists who are a good match for you.

Each of us is an oak. No, we do not have wooden bodies or leaves sprouting from our fingers, and birds usually do not befriend us by weaving nests into our hair. Nor, unless perhaps by choice, do we remain fixed to a single patch of ground, preferring instead to fling ourselves across space and time toward remote desires, destinations, and destinies. But, mobile as we are, we nonetheless have our roots. These roots come with us wherever we go, and penetrate deep beneath us no matter how much we have changed or how much earth, water, and air has passed under our feet. We are—inevitably and unavoidably—rooted beings.


Our roots connect us to each other, to every being on the planet. They connect us to the present, to this unrepeatable moment, and to those whom we neighbor as well as to those who inhabit the other side of the earth. They connect us to the past—the rich personal history that we have lived, as well as the unfathomably deep history which preceded our birth. And our roots reach out, like gesturing limbs, toward the future, toward as yet unrealized possibilities for ourselves, for human kind, and for the more-than-human world. We stand here, our bodies and minds bursting into bloom from the dark soil of eons of human and non-human experience — and yet we seem, so often, to forget our roots, and to neglect, discount, and ignore the nourishment we receive from them.


As therapists and clients, we cannot afford to succumb to the myth of un-rootedness which seems to pervade much of our culture. This myth tells us that we are separate, disconnected, alone, on-our-own. It seeks to convince us that we are in competition with everyone and everything and urges us to treat other beings as if their roots were not intertwined—as they are —with our own.In order to be truly transformative, therapy cannot be topical; even therapy with a single individual in a closed room cannot treat that person without also watering their roots. If we bring only our trunks and branches to therapy, expecting that a little CBT drizzled from above will restore our withered leaves to health, then we are neglecting the deeper potential of therapy to enrich our lives as well as the lives of every person and being with whom we are connected.


This article, brief as it is, is a call for all of us, therapists and clients alike, to strive to cultivate a sense of wholeness and connectedness in our therapeutic efforts. Let us feel our way deeply into our minds, bodies, and relationships and discover how therapy can foster rootedness within us, between us, and beyond us, so that we can promote flourishing in ourselves, our societies, and our world.
You May Also Like