Life experiences as adults, and especially as children, may be out of our conscious awareness, but can profoundly affect our mental lives and actions. One key to effective, growth-promoting therapy is bringing these influences into the light of conscious awareness, working with a therapist you trust, who is empathic, deeply committed, and insightful.
Summary – Individual Adults
- People seek therapy for relief and healing from complex and troubling life events and issues
- Finding the right therapist and having initial meetings can be daunting
- What is psychotherapy?
- Opening up and exploring challenging issues in one’s life and relationships
- Tolerating strong feelings
- Success depends on working closely with a therapist who is empathic, deeply interested and insightful
- Core principles that guide my thinking
- Complexity – each person’s life experiences are unique, deeply personal and endlessly varied
- Adult and childhood life experiences mold our understandings
- Representations from childhood, often in the shadows of our minds, can powerfully influence how we see ourselves and our relationships.
- One key to effective therapy is bringing these out-of-awareness influences into conscious awareness
- The therapist and the person he is working with are a team
- When undertaken with committed self-reflection and a skilled therapist, psychotherapy can be profoundly healing, even life changing
Why Seek Therapy? Emotional issues too complex, or at times too painful to solve alone spur people to seek psychotherapy. Feelings of distress, troubling personal events and relationships gone awry are precipitants. Therapy holds out hope of relief and healing, but getting started can be daunting.
Beginning Challenges – Tracking down names, sifting through lists of prospective therapists and weighing many factors – therapists’ locations, gender, age, specialties, training, approaches to treatment, reputation, insurances accepted, schedules – is a complex task.
Initial meetings may stir anxieties: What do I say? How will the therapist respond? Will I experience a sense of resonance and safety? How much can he or she understand? And what therapeutic approach and course of action will address my struggles and promote relief? Despite the therapist’s credentialed expertise, sharing the most personal information with a stranger can feel intimidating.
What Is Psychotherapy? The process involves opening up and digging into issues that have been pushed aside, often held out of conscious awareness. Therapy requires self-reflection, peeling back layers and tolerating strong feelings about oneself, family members, friends and at times the therapist. Working closely and developing a safe and trusting relationship with the therapist nurtures this process. Essential to a healing therapeutic experience is the confidence that the therapist is deeply interested, has warmth and is empathic and insightful. Your positive relationship with your therapist is the bedrock of successful therapy.
Core Principles that Guide my Thinking about the Therapeutic Process
Complexity – Every person’s life experiences are unique and deeply personal, as are the meanings attached to these experiences. For me the complexities and subtleties of each person’s narrative are endlessly varied and fascinating, worthy of the deepest attention and respect.
Life Experiences Shape Us – Our life experiences both as adults and as children mold our understandings. Representations from childhood developed in our families of origin, when our minds were most malleable and in the process of forming, can powerfully influence how we see ourselves and our relationships. Often outside of our conscious awareness, these personal and relational models can weigh heavily, guiding, even determining our adult thoughts, actions and struggles.
Bringing what is out of sight into view – There is much in our mental lives that is not center stage where we can see it and be consciously aware of it. Rather, much is out of sight and in the shadows. And yet these out-of-conscious-awareness forces profoundly influence our mental lives and our actions. A key to effective, growth-promoting therapy is bringing these off-stage influences into the light, looking at them, and reflecting thoughtfully about their impact on our lives.
The Process: We are a team – Together you and I join in the effort, peeling back the layers, building understandings, constructing meanings, making sense of the feelings and experiences of your being and your relationships. My job is to listen, reflect on what you are saying and consider with you the themes that appear to unify the issues you have expressed. Without claiming correctness, I offer my reflections for your consideration. I am not invested in being right, because only you know the truth of your inner feelings. I like and welcome feedback about what I have said. It is important and necessary for us to look together at my contributions as well, because we are partners in the journey.
Psychotherapy Works! – People seek psychotherapy for relief from psychological pain. When undertaken with committed self-reflection and a therapist who is a good match for you, it can be profoundly healing, often life changing.