There are many different kinds of therapy. Since Freud first came up with “the talking cure” it seems each successive generation of therapists has been determined to develop a “right” way to treat mental health, mental illness and mental wellness. Research, psychopharmacology and medicine have so far failed to come up with one “perfect solution” for everyone or one “perfect” treatment for any psychiatric disorder.
To a large extent the treatment depends not only on the issues clients choose to focus on and but also how deeply and competently they are able to self-examine. For many, the goal may be as simple as getting them “unstuck” from a difficult situation, for example, returning to work after a trauma. For others, it may mean changing a lifetime of maladaptive behaviors and accompanying thought processes, doing so through developing insight and understanding about how it was that they developed that way of being. For change to occur it must be done within a safe environment that is free from judgment.
It’s no secret that everyone wants to be happy, or perhaps happier. Everyone would like to be able to function more optimally with less frustration and less anxiety! Wouldn’t it be great to be able to better communicate desires and feelings to the people surrounding us and to have our desires attended and our feelings understood without fear of reprisal?
We want better, more intimate relationships, but we are not always aware of how make this happen. We do not know how to overcome the hindrances that get in the way of getting what we want the most. Without knowing how to communicate our feelings to others, we may even be afraid of our feelings because experiencing or communicating them somehow makes us feel more vulnerable.
As a therapist my goal is to provide a safe environment in which clients can begin exploring all aspects of their innermost selves, particularly their feelings. It is not my desire to judge or to demoralize; from my experience most people are already doing so much judging of themselves that they can not see themselves objectively.
I want more for my clients than that. I want my clients to understand that many of the obstacles that stand in the way of their ultimate happiness were self-imposed defenses put there to keep them safe when harmful elements threatened in the past. At issue is whether those defenses or coping mechanisms are still working for them, or whether they are interfering with their ability to have the connections they so desire.
In order for therapy to work, a relationship, a feeling of trust and safety must exist between the patient and the therapist. This relationship is built over time and with successive experiences of feeling listened to and understood. It is a relationship that can only exist when an individual undergoing the desire to change and develop can feel safe exploring all of their innermost thoughts, desires and feelings.
Therapy is a process. It unfolds slowly, as with any relationship. And as with most healthy relationships, you will get out of it in equal proportion to what you put into it.