A prospective client asks him or herself, "Is psychotherapy worth the investment of time and money?"
Santayana's famous quote is "those who fail to learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat them." In essence, psychotherapy is learning the lessons of personal history so that we have increased freedom to shape our lives.
Skillful therapists are teachers and problem-solvers in the domain of emotions and relationships. This is a very powerful domain, but it is so ever present that it is often in the background of awareness, like the blue sky or dark night.
We all live in a complex web of relationships. Growing up in our family we learn both helpful, positive lessons and also un-helpful, negative lessons. Every family story has themes that are passed down through the generations. Some of these themes are very positive, "work hard and do your best", "never tell a lie", "treat others as you would have them treat you."
However, there are hurtful and also unhappy themes, "kill the pain with drink or drugs", "it's OK to take out your rage on others", "don't tell anyone if you are mistreated or abused."
Each of us enters adulthood with a mixed bag of negative and positive themes and we try our best to get along in the world. We are only partially aware of the negative themes and are often blindsided when a negative theme plays out in our lives. We act out the negative theme and we end up making a bad decision or we hurt someone we love or we self-defeat.
The painful problem that brings a client to therapy is valuable because it is an expression, an example of the troubling patterns that reside out of awareness. Seeking therapy is a great opportunity to bring negative themes into awareness, to put them into words and see them in action.
A skillful therapist is trained to be an active listener and is able to put together the pieces of the puzzle. The therapist helps the client to self observe, to name and describe negative patterns of behavior. Describing and naming brings self defeating behavior out of the shadows and into awareness. Once in awareness the client is in a position to make a change.
The therapist can't prescribe solutions, each person is unique. The job of the therapist is to help the client formulate his or her own creative solution and to practice more rewarding behavior.
If a person changes course by only a few degrees, it makes a big difference in the span of a life-time. Each generation sits on the shoulders of the prior generation. Then that parent's increased self-awareness will be a huge gift to the child, if the person seeking psychotherapy has a child or children.
Does therapy really help people to change or is it only a placebo, a substitute relationship, providing comfort for those who are unable to form relationships on an equal basis in the outer world?
Therapy can enable and empower people to change. We must be aware that there are many pitfalls, echoes of illusion and delusion and many seductions on the inner journey. We must be sure that change is change and not merely imagined.
How can we be sure? The first rule is you can not do it by yourself. You must have someone you trust-- a therapist or a counselor-- who acts as a guide and who you allow to know you in an authentic way. Your therapist must become familiar with your quirks and particularly the ways in which you avoid difficulties, check here hide secrets, sabotage your own growth and negative or positive attributes. Essentially the therapist must know who you are beneath your character.
How is a therapist able to do that when we might not know who we are underneath our character ourselves? Character is communicated in various ways, just as the essential self is expressed in a variety of ways. It is the job of the therapist to "listen" in a whole body, psychic, intuitive, instinctive, and extremely sensitive and considerate way to the client. The client may have no idea of what is being communicated to the therapist unconsciously.
Some people have tried to change through therapy and counseling and become disillusioned. The practice of psycho-spiritual psychotherapy by a competent practitioner is the specialized, focused approach for people to achieve lasting, personal change and transformation. There is a vast body of knowledge, philosophy, research, and, of course, psychology which supports the practice of psychotherapy. Although clearly some practitioners are more competent than others for a variety of reasons and though sometimes a person may wish for change while being unaware that another part of themselves is resisting change, and winning, we can no more throw the baby out with the bathwater in the therapy field than we should throw the toolbox away simply because some of us don't know how to use it.
But therapy that proffers hope is not really enough for someone who wants change and is motivated to succeed, or who is depressed and seeking a way out, or suicidal and desperately seeking an answer to their angst. The first aspect of therapy we should understand is that therapy is not a commodity. You don't buy it like you go to the chemists, the grocers or the 7-Eleven. It is essentially a relationship and it is the relationship that makes it work.
The second aspect of therapy that we need to understand is that it is crucial to maintain focus. The therapist should keep you on your path and the client needs to be able to discern the relevant material and be prepared to work on it.
The relationship is crucial, because it is in early, formative relationships that we have become protected and defended. Through our relationship to the world we have learned to hide ourselves and restrict our creativity, joy and pleasure in life, as well as the realization of our potential. It follows that a healthy relationship, one that is supportive and nurturing, expansive and challenging, is the way forward to change and personal transformation. The therapy journey is a process that unfolds over time. With the right guidance, quality of relationship and mutual respect for the inner journey, transformation is possible, and indeed probable.
We are only partially aware of the negative themes and are often blindsided when a negative theme plays out in our lives. We act out the negative theme and we end up making a bad decision or we hurt someone we love or we self-defeat.
Each of us enters adulthood with a mixed bag of positive and negative themes and we try our best to get along in the world. We are only partially aware of the negative themes and are often blindsided when a negative theme plays out in our lives. We act out the negative theme and we end up making a bad decision or we hurt someone we love or we self-defeat.