- Is about you, and your experience.
- Encourages you to face, and not be overwhelmed, by anxiety, anger or other painful emotions.
- Explores difficult feelings that you may have about yourself and towards other people.
- Responds to your need to understand who you are.
- Holds the potential to transform your mind and your life.
At its simplest level of description, therapy involves having a person (the therapist) available to you as a client, at a regular time and place, in order for you to address psychological and life issues.
The meaning of the word “psychotherapist” derives from the ancient Greek for “attendant of the soul”. Properly, a therapist is one who attends to the soul (where soul means mind), or psyche of another. So, the very purpose of a psychotherapist concerns being on hand for someone within a confidential and secure setting.
Psychotherapy allows you a time and place in order to speak and be heard, and the opportunity to deal with issues and develop insight into them. However, it is by no means merely an intellectual process: therapy is an experience of your self, and who you are, that can pave the way to a more meaningful life.
A place to speak and be heard:
Therapy offers a type of non-threatening and, at the same time, focussed form of attention. The attention of your therapist attempts not to be merely passive. When you know your therapist is fully listening, then that listening itself can become a form of communication, however silent the therapist might be in a session. In other words there is a vitality around the process of being heard which makes the listening active.
The amount of dialogue you have with an individual therapist depends upon various factors, including how your personality and theirs combine, and the therapist’s training and approach to psychotherapy. For example, as mentioned in the section on my own approach, I tend to have quite a lot of dialogue with clients, whereas a purely psychoanalytic approach would typically have less verbal interaction.
The experience of yourself:
Certain emotions are hard to admit and accept, and possibly they are so difficult that we may even feel unable face them at all. Therapy aims to develop trust in yourself, and in your therapist, in order to accept and then move through painful experiences.
The opportunity to deal with issues and develop insight:
Therapy is also a place to gain insight into your life and how you live it. It supports self knowledge and so, necessarily, dialogue is client focussed, i.e. you, and your concerns, are the subject.
In therapy you begin to accumulate insight, and build upon the understanding you have of your experience. Such insights can stretch from the minor to the profound, and will derive from careful reflection, dialogue, or perhaps from moments of spontaneous understanding either inside or outside of sessions.
The therapist will also offer you their own comments, insights or interpretations. An interpretation is an explanation, or view, about a particular behaviour, issue or situation. The best interpretations will be in tune with your experience, and will strike a note of truth within you.