Transformation: The Process of Integration & Regression


I will start this post with one my favourite poems by Portia Nelson which really speaks to the journey and transformation that one goes through in the course of inner healing.


Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

1) I walk, down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost…..I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.


2) I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.


3) I was down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there.

I still fall in….it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.


4) I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it,


5) I walk down another street.



Many people embark upon the journey of self-healing, self-development, and self-exploration in several different ways.  Some may take to self-help books, or take up various hobbies to learn more about who they are.  Some may join local support groups or volunteer in their community.  Some may take courses or take up a new fitness regime. Some may take to mindfulness based practices, such as yoga and/or meditation.  Perhaps all of the above.  Either way, when an individual reaches out to me it is often the beginning or continuation of their self-healing journey from the inside out.

One of the many profound pieces that I get to witness within the work I do is how an individual transforms. This inner transformation does not come without obstacles, regressions, and set-backs, but what it often starts with is a desire to understand why they are they way they are and perhaps a desire to change while developing immense self compassion and awareness along the way.

Integration is a key piece within therapy.  As we transform we begin to integrate our story through the process of sharing it within a safe and therapeutic space.  Some of the information revealed in the therapy room is being unveiled for the first time and at times felt for the first time too.  As we share our story and feel our feelings it goes through the process of integration and as a result we begin to transform.

Throughout the integration phase, I witness my clients processing and healing from past and present experiences.  As core issues come up, we work together to identify what is being triggered at the core and then work through them in a safe space. As a result of working through core issues and and limiting beliefs, individuals develop such a profound level of self-awareness that they can readily identify their needs and begin the process of identifying how they will get their needs met in a healthy (or healthier) way.  This is all part of an individual becoming their “real self’ – who they truly are at their core.  For some, they are learning this for the first time.  For others, it is a process of returning to their “real self”.

Similarly to what Portia Nelson so eloquently described in the poem above, in one’s healing and integration phase there may be what feels like regression or taking a step back.  This may result in immense frustration, confusion, and hopelessness.  This is often a critical part in one’s journey because one of two things will result from this: 1) giving up or, 2) continuing to move forward.  The way to deal with these regressions as they come up is to go through them.  To feel the associated pain that is present within the regression is how we can move through it.  Avoiding, distracting and/or giving up  – while all very viable and enticing options at times – are not conducive to one’s self-healing journey and transformation.

The more and more an individual goes through regression and transformation, the more confident they become as time goes along in knowing that they will get through it. With ever regression comes a learning and if we explore this learning and go inward with it, or perhaps even take a step back from it and simply observe, we begin to see this pattern in a different way and thus may respond to it differently this time.  This is all part of one’s recovery and growth.

Integration is such a vital part of the therapeutic process and it comes at different times for each individual.  Transformation and regression are also part of the process and tend to ebb and flow together.

It takes tremendous courage and vulnerability to both own and share our story, but the transformation that can result is healing from the inside out and being and embracing who we truly are.