What is psychotherapy?
"Talking helps" is a subtle, yet profound truism. When we are really being listened to, with no social obligation to act "normal" or hide our true nature, we are able to "speak the unspeakable."
Maintaining this "false self", along with not getting our real needs met in the present, can cause significant distress. Common symptoms are anxiety, depression and other acting-out behaviors, like self-medication with drugs and alcohol. Sometimes the distress is "hidden", like hypertension. Like Woody Allen says, "I can't express anger... I just grow a tumor instead."
Expressing our real feelings and revealing our "true self" provides relief and access to our "forgotten" needs as well as deeper insight into our mal-adapted coping behaviors.
These are the conditions required for change, symptom resolution and the restoration of our unique psychologcal development.
How does therapy help?
The solution to a problem lies in its roots. It takes a willingness to explore these roots. Therein lies the solution ... In other words, giving yourself the time and making space to explore the feelings underlying the issues in ones life, is the key.
A therapeutic realtionship not only can create the necessary feeling of safety, but can expand our repertoire of behaviors. People can take risks to be more of themselves. Sometimes it is the only opportunity we might have to explore parts of ourselves that we cannot share with others.
Psychotherapy is a natural process, and is not based on some obscure thesis with a fancy sounding name. The word cure comes from the word "caring", not from X.Y.Z. or other acronym soup.
Change is one of the few constants in life. Unresolved feelings along with their defensive behaviors (act outs) interfere with our ability to change and adapt to the different stages of our lives. These unresolved feelings usually have two aspects. Firstly, the present-day part.
The other aspect are the feelings (memories) from the past that are triggered by the situation.
These memories usually retain a faint voice, so are not truly "forgotten." We often ignore them.
These two aspects are of a piece. It is usually the memory part that has the most influence over how we react to these situations.
Therapy helps by putting feelings and reactions into their correct context, to separate the past from the present. Avoiding these issues merely serves to maintain the status quo, and prevent us from getting our real needs met in our relationships and lifework.
Being vulnerable enough and opening up to ones's feelings allows people to truly love you, and want to be close to you. It is totally the opposite of what we usually expect.
Therapy often provides the support and impetus to help us find the courage to confront these issues and finally resolve them, so that our childhood experiences no longer interfere with our present-day lives. Therapy helps us find our voice to say the things we need to say.
Usually, the more meaningful the experience, the greater the inner strength we develop based on this understanding.
Sometimes a therapist is the only person who can be trusted enough to tell us the truth.