PSYCHOTHERAPY DISTINGUISHING FEATURE #2: RELATIONSHIP
I am not a therapy salesperson. But I have benefitted tremendously from the work of therapy and seen others do the same. It has become a big part of my life's work. And this prompts me to reflect on what in particular therapy offers in a sea of options in the personal development world. Something else that therapy offers in particular: relationship. (Last week I wrote about Thinking).
The relationship between therapist and client is the container for everything that happens in therapy.
The thoughts and feelings you have about your therapist and the thoughts and feelings your therapist have about you make up the therapy. Your therapy is constructed from these things.
With a teacher you are learning something from the teacher.
With a therapist you are both co-creating in every moment.
Everything you say in therapy, you say to your therapist. What you don’t say, you don’t say to your therapist.
Therapy can be a shelter in the storm of life - a place where you can say anything, where you know you will be listened to and helped.
Therapy can be a place to explore how you relate. From the beginning, in everything that you do and say in your particular way, you are relating. Your therapist experiences you and can talk with you about you.
Therapy can be a place to have a new relational experience: curiosity, compassion, humour, intelligence, challenge, fury, cherishing.
It is a place to discover things in relationship that you didn’t know could be there. This is why it takes forever to do some work. Because you don’t even know what is possible and you can’t hear it let alone experience it. Until one day you do. And your therapist is there holding a part of you, being with you in a way that you just didn’t think could happen.
Therapy can be a place where you take in someone else’s view. Sometimes I say to clients, "if you can’t speak to yourself compassionately, ask yourself what I would say about you in that moment." In this way they take me in - they know what I would say and thus a part of them knows how to be compassionate to themselves. They just have to find that part in me rather than themselves for the time being.
Psychotherapy follows the client. It is a relationship but not one of dominance or teaching. It is a relationship based on the well being and healing of the client. This can be a very new experience for some.
The ability to talk about anything, confidentially, and with an eye to growth and healing, is a unique feature of therapy.
If we are open, we can find the unexpected, the new, and maybe even what we seek, in each other.
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