From time to time we may need a safe, confidential and non-judgmental space in order to process difficult thoughts and emotions. We may need a thinking space to consolidate ourselves and face our fears, our desires, and our truths. While it may seem daunting to open up and trust somebody, in therapy you will have the space to approach your difficulties with a fresh perspective and new solutions. It is always worth exploring why we repeat certain patterns with family, work, friends or partners. This way we might find meaningful links to our past and approach our mistakes in the present with more compassion and understanding. This way we become stronger and have more choice in who we want to be, and in how we pursue our desires.
Reasons for therapy may include:
- Managing difficult emotions such as anger, or grief.
- Experiencing interpersonal issues and conflicts, and the feelings of inferiority or guilt that may accompany them.
- Managing work-related stress, or work/ personal life conflicts.
- Experiencing lack of meaning, or feelings of void.
- Wanting to clarify your own personal values, goals and desires.
- Finding suppport during a difficult transition.
During therapy you will be offered a space to verbalise your concerns, your thoughts and emotions and clarify the meaning of your situation. New solutions and perspectives will emerge both short-term, and long-term. You will have the opportunity to understand why some problems repeat and how to get unstuck. Therapy will allow you to find your own strengths and meaning rather than impose one from outside yourself. You might want to address a specific problem or identify multiple factors affecting you negatively. You choose how long you want to be in therapy.
In the first few sessions it might feel like you do not know where to start or that you are at a loss about what the problem seems to be. In our everyday lives we tend to push many issues to the side until they become convoluted, and hidden from our mind's view. Therapy facilitates increasing awareness of what has gone wrong, what has gone well, and how we may be able to move forward.
What is the therapeutic effect of therapy?
The Recovery vs Discovery metaphor
Therapy can be viewed as a mix of two aims, or processes, one of recovery and one of discovery. The difference lies in how they approach suffering, love, hope, or meaning – and what may be missing. Recovery helps us claim back what we lost, and discovery invites us the question these losses, and challenge our personal myths. In a practical sense, recovery aims at covering over gaps in our functioning: learning a new coping skill, approaching a problem with new outside knowledge, restoring a measure of order. Discovery allows exploring why the gaps are there to begin with, and what were the orders that created problems in the first place. Recovery invites meaning from outside, and discovery challenges the meaning that is already in place. Recovery asks “what is the right way?” while discovery asks “why do I need to know what is the right way?”. At different points in our lives we need our therapy to err more on one side rather than on the other.
It is the client, or patient, or analysand that makes the choice to voice which process he wants, or maybe needs, in their therapy. Although therapists may favour one process over the other in their main modality, the therapeutic relationship will be the medium through which both parties will arrive at their focus.
In my practice I give priority to discovery but I also appreciate the immediateness and empowering effects of recovery. I find that the umbrella term “therapy” should include both processes as equally valid. Not everyone, and not at every point in their life, needs to challenge their truths - especially if these are all that keeps the person together in difficult times. However, “doing the right thing” has also been linked, time and again, to much suffering. The reason that I as a practitioner prioritise discovery is that it allows for a broader perspective, and for raising useful questions, thus transcending false dilemmas, while I find recovery a valuable process without which we can find ourselves vulnerable to life-halting, even life-threatening crises. At the end of the day, it is the subjective experience of the client that takes centre stage.
– Inspired by P. Verhaeghe and A.Kullman
One of the most crucial aspects of therapy and counselling is confidentiality – what you disclose to me is to be treated as personal and confidential information. The only exception to this is when information is disclosed relevant to child abuse and immediate threat to life.