Psychotherapy offers you a window-full of new views of yourself. Once you can see yourself from new angles, your relationships with others and with yourself will show up more clearly, things will start falling into place, and nagging problems will become easier to resolve. All you need for psychotherapy to work is an ability to learn from experience, an openness to new thoughts, and a willingness to put into words what you’re feeling and thinking (though it’s not unusual that the words are hard to find, especially in the beginning).
Often, people come for therapy when they feel dissatisfied with choices they make, or can’t trust themselves, or find their relationships problematic, or feel unable to cope with day-to-day living. Often they try to cope with what hurts them with an addiction to work, food, drugs, self-harm or some other way of fooling the pain and confusion for just a little bit longer. Many do their best not to think about it, or try medication or self-help books, but the trouble still doesn’t go away.
Puzzling out why things have broken down and how to deal with them on your own can be deeply discouraging. The point of psychotherapy is to give you some experienced help. The therapy relationship is made to help you sift through your thoughts, feelings and actions, and figure out how they fit together. We often don’t really know what we’re made of, what our strengths are, or why our problems came up, until we have the time and space to have a careful and non-judgmental look at them. By engaging in therapy, you may discover, put together, or change aspects of yourself that may have worked well in the past, but don’t work so well anymore. You might also come to appreciate sides of yourself you weren’t aware of. The more fully you can see and understand yourself and the more you can put yourself into words within a therapeutic conversation, the more symptoms such as depression, anxiety and fear can dissolve.
You may already have a sense of the situations that make your life painful, or you may feel confused about what’s getting in your way. In either case the starting point is to let yourself say whatever’s on your mind. There’s no right or wrong about what you say or how you say it. While listening and offering my thoughts, I keep in mind the idea that everyone repeats patterns that are painful and self-defeating. On our own, it can be impossible to see and understand our well-worn ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. Simply saying to ourselves that we can overcome our demons if we change partner – job – diet – etc. — though helpful in some ways — just doesn’t work.
My role as a therapist is to help you see your particular patterns more clearly, and help you appreciate how they might serve you well or not, so that you can choose for yourself how you’d like to change. Having a therapeutic, confidential time and space to express your thoughts and feelings is a powerful way of getting a handle on your life. Through this process, you’ll understand your relationships better, you’ll feel you have more choices, and you can dismiss old patterns that don’t suit you anymore. Finally, you can feel that you’re more in the driver’s seat on a road that you’ve more consciously chosen.