Talk therapy has a time and a place. But after several years in talk therapy myself, I looked up one day and realized that although I had acquired a deep internal understanding of some dysfunctional patterns that were repeating in my life and where they may have come from, the patterns themselves weren’t changing at all in my external life. All the analysis and insight wasn’t translating to real change. Frustrated, I set off in search of a therapist, coach, or healer who might offer a more tangible shift. Which is what led to several sessions with Dr. Sam Rader, whose pioneering, life-changing method — called source coding — ushered in more changes in my life in the span of a week than years of therapy combined.
But, before I jump in, I should first answer the question of what exactly source coding is. To start, it’s helpful to understand Rader’s background. As an undergraduate at Vassar, Rader double majored in cognitive science, which is like neuroscience, robotics, AI, along with Eastern religion such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Essentially, she was studying consciousness, from the East and the West. Source coding — right down to its name, which comes from computer language — is derived from both of these disciplines. “A source code is the original fundamental coding that determines how a program will function,” Rader tells me. “If a program does something, that is the source code. And from there, all the rest of the code is written to match the source code.”
How this applies in a psychological capacity translates into our own dysfunctional coping styles and frustrating recurring patterns that send many people into therapy and in search of healing. “In my understanding, in our first five years of life, our early experience writes source code inside of us, that then sort of determines the rest of the way that our story unfolds,” Rader says. “And a lot of that coding is great. And some of it is glitchy. And so I help people rewrite their code so that they're more in alignment with their true essential selves. Source coding is about finding the glitches in that coding before dissolving, resolving, and solving them and writing a new code that allows us to be more in alignment with who we really are, which is our source energy inside.”
What Is A Source Coding Session Like?
To better understand source coding, I signed up for a session with Rader. One early and obvious way that her work differs from traditional talk therapy is that very little time is spent on what may or may not have happened in childhood, or in your early life. Instead, Rader wants to hear a bit about what is going on in your life that is frustrating to you now, and anything similar that may have happened in the past. What she is looking for are patterns.
In my case, I described a sense of almost-ness that has pervaded my life — a getting to the final round of something, only to lose the opportunity; or finding a perfect match of a partner, only for the relationship to dissolve. I felt stuck in the waiting room of life, I told Rader, without anything progressing to the stage of actually having. Quickly, Rader got to work, identifying several coping styles that she could tell had been present in my upbringing and if this was the pattern recurring in my life. Without my needing to tell her anything, she correctly deduced that in my childhood home, I was often told I was both “too much” and wanted too much, which had led to a glitchy code inside of me that the world was only mirroring back. I should be content with what I had, the world was mirroring back, without needing to have a single bit more.
Next, Rader led me through the energetic work to repair the code. She asked me to truly sit still and feel the intensity, sadness, and anger of feeling deprived — to truly feel it, in silence, instead of articulating it. (I cried, which is something I have never been able to do in talk therapy.) Then, we started the energetic work of repairing the code. Very gently, Rader asked me if I could try and imagine a world in which the opportunities I wanted got to land for me, with grace and ease. She asked me to try and taste something sweet on my tongue. Shockingly, I could — a faint taste of honey. Rader explained that my particular glitchy code was from a deprived coping style; that nothing good got to land because I hadn’t learned how to hold and metabolize anything good into my body, and so nothing good could be digested and allowed to stick. She wanted me to sit with her and feel something good — the force of her caring, the reality of all the sweetness I knew deep in my body exists in the world, beyond and beneath my own stories and coding — and to truly assimilate that feeling into my body. It was profoundly energetic work, that allowed the glitchy code to see its own error and begin repairing.
“First, I orient the client to their symbolic landscape and mirror the code back to itself,” Rader told me after our session. “Because really all the code needs to start to shift is a clear mirror. Within each of us, we have an innate healing function. The code doesn't want to be glitchy, and when you show it the exact glitch that it has, it already starts dissolving. I start by just saying what it is. I don't try to change it in any way. I don't try to manipulate in any way. We're not going to think about it. We're just going to feel into the fractal pattern that you've been stuck inside of, and we're just going to feel all the edges of it like really touch and taste and feel each corner of the silhouette of this wound. We're bringing it from the shadow into the light, and we just sit with it. Just being with it allows it to alchemize and dissolve. And then either the system will naturally generate its own new line of code and be the antidote, or I can drop the new line of code.”
In my case, that new code was the sensation of sweetness, of good things getting to land and stick. Rader was dropping that code in me when she asked me to sit in the feeling of sweetness, sans story or narrative. After several minutes of doing so, I found myself crying again, but in a different way. I had dropped below what Rader described to me as the passing waves and the stories they’d left behind, and accessed the still water underneath, full of this “juicy sweet essence of love, ease, and joy” that we all have, and is who we really are. From this space, I could see so clearly that it was absurd to believe that I alone wasn’t meant to access this goodness or ease. Of course the world was filled with wonderful things that were meant for me. I could suddenly, in fact, remember several of those things that already had happened in my life, and actually feel how obvious it was, that there was so much more out there. The new code was coming to life in my body.
What Happens After A Session?
Rader told me that after a session, I could expect shifts in my life, and she wasn’t kidding. Immediately, I felt myself simply enjoying life more than I had in the past. Walking my dog down the street in the morning, I found myself not worrying about what would happen if one scenario or another didn’t pan out. Instead, I felt peaceful, safe, and happy. Over the following days, I noticed myself able to accept and experience people helping me, seeing me, and appreciating me. A consulting client accepted my high budget proposal without pushing back. A man carried my bags from the train station. I had a meal with a person with whom my relationship had felt strained over the years full of ease and peace and positivity. For the first time in my adult life, I wasn’t waiting for things to fall apart, or bad things to happen. And lo and behold, better things were happening. I went on dates with people and didn’t automatically think we wouldn’t end up together. I wrote things and allowed myself to believe they would be published.
Unlike talk therapy, source coding is meant to land in a finite number of sessions, sometimes as few as one. One of the most important things that people can do to continue the work that has been laid down during a session with Rader (or one of her team members who has been trained in source coding) is to feel the new code as viscerally as possible. To sit, as we had in session, feeling that new code — in my case, the sweetness of the world, ready to land in my life — devoid of story or narrative. “When we enter the new embodiment, that's where the new world comes from,” Rader said.
Ultimately, working with Rader for a very short amount of time shifted more inside of me than years of talk therapy did. In talk therapy, I had been working on the level of the mind. In source coding, we had been working on something much deeper and more elemental. “When I was a psychologist, I would try to work with the mind, and it would go around in circles,” Rader said. “It took me years of seeing someone every single week for them to have shifts that we had in a session. And that’s because when we get into embodiment and energy, that’s when things can really start to change. When we shift out of the mind and into the heart and the body, that’s when we can really birth new worlds from there.” Her blend of perception and energy work, along with the framework of coding and re-connecting to source, has been nothing short of transformational. Instead of simply understanding my problems, I truly feel for the first time, as if I am simply leaving them behind.