Fourteen Forms of Relocation Therapy

September 18, 2018

An impressionistic painting of Earth.
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You’ve probably heard of so-called relocation therapy. It normally refers to moving to a new city; that said, when you think about it there are definitely other times in which moving your ass, briefly or for an extended period, is therapeutic.

An impressionistic painting of Earth.

“Planet Edition” by Cécile Boland

If you take a closer look there are actually quite a few examples:


If you live with other people—family included—and it’s not going well you could move out; alternatively, if the opposite is true, you could instead move in.


You may be able to work through childhood issues by returning to your hometown or to a location where you lived before—your old memories will arise and you will regress in order to heal traumas.


If you live in an urban area then you know how rejuvenating it can be to spend some time surrounded by lush, natural beauty—especially if your trip happens to support conservation efforts.


If you’re living beyond your means in regard to your residence you’re probably stressed out all the time, realizing that it’s not worth it, and considering moving somewhere cheaper.


If you feel like shaking things up a bit (consciously and unconsciously) you can move to a country that differs considerably from your current environment culturally.


What better way is there to motivate yourself than operant conditioning? (A good example of this in regard to traveling is someone struggling to get in shape for whom a beach vacation is exciting but terrifying.)


If you visit somewhere health-conscious like Hawaii you will likely pick up healthier habits as the local culture will affect you through osmosis and peer pressure.


Depending on your religion you can travel to a spiritual location (e.g., Mecca and Vatican City)—or, secularly, to an energetic “vortex” (e.g., Machu Picchu and Sedona).


In order to reduce your dependency or take control of your disorder you can spend some time in a place (it doesn’t have to be an institution) without the object(s) of your desire or triggers.


Sometimes you just need a fresh start and beginning anew someplace else allows you to make a commitment as many people do during New Year’s.


You live in a fast-paced world so it’s quite helpful to escape periodically and if you really need to unplug you can take part in programs guiding practices like silent meditation, yoga and tai chi.


If you’re feeling out of touch with your roots you may want to suggest that your friends or family try to get together sometime soon.


It’s a little unusual but it might change your perspective if, for a day or two, you rent a house, apartment or room in your own town that is not your home.


If you live in a suburban or rural area it’s likely that you’re keen to spice up your life occasionally by going to a more populated city where you can soak up some culture.

After a dozen or so years of smoking cigarettes daily I was able to switch to vaping several months back. Here’s how: each time I move/shift I act on the opportunity to reinvent myself, so when I relocated to Vietnam I decided to arrive as a nonsmoker.

Five or six years ago, when I discussed my desire to move from NYC to SF with my psychoanalyst she told me I should work through obstacles instead of running away from such problems. I’ve thought about this many times over the subsequent years and have decided that she was wrong, that relocation therapy is real and is effectively used by everyday people every day.

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