The Origin Story of a Logo

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Brand identity was extremely important to me as I launched my private counseling practice. The brand of any company becomes its symbolic representation in the world. My aim was for the Mindful Counseling GR logo to be simple, easy to recognize, authentic, and meaningful. I’m often asked about the meaning of the logo. It is a dragonfly perched on a spiral.

[The Spiral]

It’s not just any spiral, but is known as the Golden Spiral, which occurs throughout nature and has been called the geometric blueprint for life. It has been recognized across many cultures as deeply symbolic of human development and spiritual growth.

Early in my career as a psychotherapist I began to notice that there is often a spiral-like nature to the way that we as humans develop and heal. For example, often a new client would come into therapy experiencing a great deal of suffering in their life. They may say that they were coming in to find relief from some anxiety, depression, or relational struggles. In our work together clients would often find an initial improvement in their symptoms, but inevitably the symptom would eventually come back in some form or another. At this point the client would often say something like, “I thought I was over this struggle. I can’t believe we have done all of this work and here I am again, face to face with this anxiety.” As a newer therapist, this experience was often distressing for both the client and myself. I would wonder if the work we had done was actually helpful and would sometimes have my doubts.

As I continued to mature and develop as a therapist, I began to notice a subtle but crucial distinction. If the client and I only focused on the symptom it would certainly appear that there was minimal change because here the symptom was again. However, if we could zoom out just a little bit we would notice that although the symptom had returned, the person experiencing the symptom had certainly changed. Their response to the anxiety would be much different than when they began their therapeutic process. They would begin to notice that they have a much deeper capacity to look at the symptom as a messenger and wonder with curiosity, rather than judgement, what message it might have for them. They could now observe the symptom rather than being completely flooded and shut down by it. While the symptom remained the same in its essence, the self who was experiencing the symptom had indeed shifted and healed in significant ways.

This led me to an awareness that the therapeutic journey is much more like a spiral than a straight line. Symptoms may come around again and again at each deepening turn of the spiral, however the return of the symptoms is the wrong focal point to determine if transformation is occurring. The question, “Who am I today as I encounter this symptom,” will often reveal that a shift in the self has occurred. A new capacity to face symptoms and struggles in a more grounded and less reactive manner will emerge.

I knew that the spiral would need to be included in the logo.

[The Dragonfly]

In the months that led up to the creation of Mindful Counseling GR, I was noticing dragonflies everywhere. It was almost comical at times as though the universe was trying to get my attention. Once there was even one flying in front of my windshield directly in front of my face at 25 mph!  I was mesmerized by their sharp and crisp movements in addition to their ability to hover in place. They seem to embody a combined capacity to be at ease and able to take decisive action in whichever direction they choose. I told a friend about my experience with dragonflies and without flinching he suggested that perhaps the dragonfly had particular spiritual meaning for me. I smiled and nodded as though I understood what he meant by this.

Later, I decided to look up the symbolic meaning dragonflies and was delighted to learn that they are often representative of change, transformation, adaptability. They are also symbolic of the emotional realm of life with an implied invitation to explore the depths of one’s felt experience. The connection between the dragonfly’s invitation and the work I do with my clients was uncanny. I then remembered my friend’s words about the dragonfly’s potential significance for me and wondered if indeed, he might have been right. It was then that I knew that the logo would need to be a combination of the spiral and the dragonfly.

This combination symbolically captures the essence of the therapeutic hope that we hold for our clients (and for ourselves). It is a lovely representation of the trajectory of insight, healing, and transformation that is possible within the therapeutic relationship.

[Original Logo Sketch by: Phil Nellis]