Many people find themselves in therapy as a last resort; they say they’ve tried everything and it hasn’t worked. Understandably they feel as though they’ve failed in some way, or they tell me how angry they are. Their first question is often “What’s the point of talking?” or “So tell me how this will work?”
So how does therapy work? Well, therapy is very different to the talking you might do with a friend. To start with, you don’t have to “take care of” your therapist in the same way as a friend: you don’t have to worry about offending them, or taking their experiences into consideration, or taking up their time.
This is time dedicated to you sharing your feelings and experiences, in a non-judgemental environment.
The quality of the listening is also very specific. A therapist is trained to actively hear all of what might be communicated; in the words used, a tone of voice and body language, as well as in the silences and what is not spoken.
A therapist will be able to offer reflections on aspects of what you have shared which you may not have considered before. You will be encouraged to explore experiences from a number of perspectives and build a more complete and realistic picture.
A therapist will not “advise” you. They don’t hold the answers to your problem; you do. That may sound as though they’re not really helping, but their skill is to help you navigate the emotional and psychological terrain in a way that helps you to discover what serves you best.
This process enables you to gain some mastery over yourself and the situations you face now, and in the future.
Therapy is not easy. Most people talk about how painful and challenging it is. They will also say that it has made irrevocable, positive changes in their approach to life: their sense of self, their relationships, and their ability to “come to life” and live zoetically.