• Find a Therapist Like Sam Gamgee

    Even though I’m a therapist, self-care doesn’t always come easy for me. Usually I have to force myself to slow down and take care of myself. I’ve been fighting COVID for the past week though and haven’t had much choice in the matter. This weekend, since I wasn’t moving much any way, I decided it was the perfect time for a long overdue Lord of the Rings marathon. While I was watching, I started thinking about what a great therapist Samwise Gamgee would be. In case you need a refresher, he starts off as Frodo’s snooping gardener and becomes one of his greatest allies. Obviously he’s a wonderful friend and Frodo would never have made it without him but there are several qualities that I think are especially therapeutic.


    (Note: you probably aren’t interested in this post unless you’re already a fan of LOTR but, just in case, SPOILER ALERT.)


    Here for your enjoyment are the top five reasons you should find a therapist like Sam.


    1. Sam will go with you into the darkest, scariest parts.

    Sometimes our journeys are terrifying. Whether you are facing grief, carrying trauma or dealing with difficult circumstances, we all have to face the darkness sometimes. A great therapist won’t shy away from that. It’s important to look for a therapist who understands the monsters you’re up against and isn’t afraid to battle them with you.


    How to find your Sam Gamgee Therapist

    Not every therapist is right for every situation. For example, if you’re facing Shelob I am NOT your girl. (I fast forward or skip those pages!) Look for a therapist who understands what you are facing and won’t shy away from the hard stuff.


    2. Sam can recognize and call out the Gollum in your life.

    As the ring’s hold on Frodo gets stronger, it’s harder and harder for him to see clearly. Sam however, is far enough removed to know that Gollum is a threat and he’s enough of a friend to say it. Whether your Gollum is addiction, depression, broken relationships, or unhealthy coping skills (like not pausing for a LOTR binge until you have COVID) you need someone who will call you out for your own good.


    How to find your Sam Gamgee Therapist

    Look for a therapist who will tell the truth even when you don’t like it. They need to be humble and open minded enough to know that your experience or beliefs can be different than theirs. Stay away from “yes people” though who just tell you what you want to hear instead of speaking hard truths.


    3. Sam stays true even when you’re angry with him.

    Any time you go on an epic quest with someone, you’ll eventually have some disagreements. That might happen when Gollum is whispering in your ear, you disagree on how to proceed or you’re both worn down from the journey. Sam knows that Frodo needs him, even when they fight and he comes back again and again. In healthy relationships, especially therapeutic ones, we can get mad without having to ghost each other.


    How to find your Sam Gamgee Therapist

    I welcome my clients telling me if I miss it or I don’t understand because that means they feel safe enough to disagree with me. Occasionally I get really excited when I client who struggles to express emotions is able to say they’re mad at me. Look for a therapist that you can be honest with if an approach isn’t working and who won’t run away when you’re upset with them.

    4. Sam knows who the real hero of the journey is.

    Throughout the series, Sam never forgets whose quest this really is. He’s the hero’s helper. He guides, supports, and in the end even carries him but Frodo has the bear the ring and face Mount Doom. As much as Sam wants to help, Frodo is the only one who can actually save Middle Earth.


    How to find your Sam Gamgee Therapist

    Look for a therapist who recognizes that this is your journey. Sometimes helpers want to be heroes, to give too much advice, or take on the tasks that truly belong to you. This might come from a good place but it doesn’t help you heal. Find a therapist who will face the fire, the darkness, or even the giant spider with you but stays in their role as a Sam to your Frodo.


    5. Sam will let you go when the journey is over but he’ll be changed by you.

    After everything Sam did for Frodo, it’s heartbreaking to see him standing on the shore while the ship sails off to. He couldn’t hold him back though. Sam goes back to his own life but he’ll never be the same because of the journey he took with Frodo.


    How to find your Sam Gamgee Therapist

    Sometimes I think I learn as much from my clients as they do from me. I have been witness to some of the bravest acts possible and had the honor of seeing pain that no one else was allowed to see. A good therapist never forgets what a privilege that is and allows themselves to be moved by their clients. We’ll stick with you as long as you need, be proud of you when you no longer need us, and walk away from the relationship better because we got to be a small part of your quest.


    If you’re setting out a path of facing trauma, healing your relationship, or finding peace, it’s important to find the right Sam / therapist to support you. Ask whatever questions you have and make sure they are the right fit before investing in them. It’s also ok to switch if you realize they aren’t the right one for you or they aren’t the right one for this part of your journey

    I always offer clients a free consultation before starting therapy because I want to make sure we’re right for each other. If we’re not a great match, I’ll try to give you referrals to other therapists who might be. I know it’s scary to start the journey of therapy but I believe it is worth it.


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