The analogy of an iceberg is not new in describing problems. You may see your child throwing a tantrum because he is not allowed to have a cookie; however, it takes more analysis to recognize that the source of the tantrum is really how tired he is because he stayed up to watch the end of a movie the night before. You may see your child squirming and being silly, but do you realize that she is really just nervous that the doctor may give her a shot?
A client came in the other day and was able to clearly describe what brought him into counseling, as well as recognize the issues in the background that were likely contributing and that needed to be addressed and processed. Although the part of his iceberg above the water did need to be addressed right away, he was aware that the layers beneath the water posed a danger to him also.
Different modalities of therapy address different levels of the iceberg; however, good client care addresses the entire problem. Perhaps a better analogy would be a weed because if you try to cut it off at ground level, it will grow back and continue to cause problems until you address the root.
Are you addressing both the problem that you can see and what is going on under the surface? If the problem is weight, is overeating behind it? What causes you to over eat? Is it a habit learned in childhood? Did you develop this habit because you were sad or lonely? Were these feelings a result of being told that you did not matter? Or did you always feel you could not live up to expectations or the example of an older sibling?
Or, maybe weight is only a problem because you need to increase your activity. Are you working too much and spending too many hours sitting in front of a computer? Are you an all or nothing person and not walking because you think you should be running? The possibilities are endless because we each have unique experiences and thoughts every day. There is not a single remedy because what is behind the problem may be very different for different people.
You have heard the old joke:
Man: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this”
Doctor: “Well, then don’t do that”.
It seems like a clear solution, but what if that was raising his hands over his head; would the man need to eliminate any T-shirts and non-cardigan sweaters from his wardrobe because he could not get them on? Isn’t it helpful to find out why it hurts to determine if there is a solution beyond avoidance?
I do not mean to suggest that everyone needs to spend years in psychoanalysis, just that we need to find the unique solution that fits for our unique problems. Buying a gym membership won’t help you exercise if you never go. You might never go because you work a different shift than they are open or because you do not have transportation.
What is your weed? What ice under the water is causing damage in your life?