Life and its surprises can sometimes put us out of spirits, our projects, our convictions or our quality of life may be compromised. Rocked by a traumatic event, challenged by recurring situations or submerged by emotions, our mental faculties can be put to the test.
If we decide to seek advice, then often we will bring something with us that «doesn’t work », uneasiness, discomfort, suffering, some symptom. This symptom is the alarm signal that alerts us to the fact that part of us is in fight mode ; it is the alarm signal of the internal struggles that we would love to silence if we only knew how, or had the possibility. There is the explicit (that which is seen, that which is said or heard) and the implicit (that which is not tangible, that which gnaws away at us). These unconscious combats become stumbling blocks, inhibitions, tensions, or internal conflicts …all of which can be deeply investigated during therapy.
There are many diverging reasons for pushing the therapist’s door : gaining a better understanding of ourselves and our own behaviour patterns, or of repetitive situations, analysing distressing situations, excessive emotional outbursts and other problems…
The Benefits of Therapy
Therapy is about relieving suffering, alleviating stress, adding to ones resources and creativity, making conscious choices, multiplying ones options, widening ones operating space, seeing things differently, discovering which areas of one’s life could do with some investment, becoming independent, …
Seeking advice can be a fruitful journey, but often we are held back by constricting notions. Here are a few examples :
« No need to pay someone to be able to talk about my problems, I have enough friends around me to help » …a first reflex may be to work out our problems with the easiest means to hand ; if close ones can support and relieve the soul in distress, that’s only good. However, close ones may not always be available to support, or for various and understandable reasons may not want to get too involved, or even just the opposite – get too involved ! We have all, at some time or another, received an avalanche of advice when actually all we wanted was somebody to listen. In these cases professional help can be useful : the therapist brings another point of view to the problem. How the professional listens to our words and our troubles can reverberate in us, hitting the spot in strategic places. Nothing like a good dose of oil to loosen up stuck areas !
« Why pay someone if they don’t resolve my problem ? » , « If I can’t solve it myself, how will someone else do it ? » Do not confuse therapist with magician. It is a team effort : the client comes with all his uniqueness, but without the instruction booklet… Together, therapist and client each hold specific knowledge, and this knowledge, being situated in different places, is necessarily different. The client knows his own life-story intimately, his actions and movements ; the therapist can read between the lines and establish connections in places where the client is too involved to be able to stand back and get the broader view. This « instruction booklet », discovered together, is not applicable to anybody else ; because any one event does not have the same far-reaching effect on any 2 people (If Tom and Sam both lose their dog, they will not use the same words to describe the event, and the loss will not impact on their lives in the same way). The work of the therapist is a tribute to the uniqueness of the client.
We can imagine the co-operation between client and therapist as a large jigsaw puzzle where they strive together to assemble the pieces ; or as a joint journey where they aim for a distinct destination taking a route they create together on the map.
« Going to therapy means admitting there is a problem » …true, it means taking our head out of the sand and applying ourselves to the task in hand. With the true ambivalence that is fundamental to our beings, we want to change, but don’t dare to let go of the security of our old ways ; we never feel better than when we are in our comfy old slippers !
Therapy helps us define where we need to change for our own benefit. The therapist respects each person’s rhythm, accompanying with benevolence, goodwill and kindness.
« You come with one problem, you leave with a hundred » …do not worry, therapist and client choose the boundaries together. It is a collaboration.
« Therapy is expensive » …true, but it can be considered a long-term investment, a sort of savings or pension-fund for peace of mind.