If you have not experienced Counselling or Psychotherapy before, picking up the phone or sending that first email can be an unsettling experience. Perhaps you are unsure if seeing a therapist will be of any benefit to you or help with the issues that are currently presenting in your life.
The aim of Psychotherapy is not to provide you with advice or answers, but to be a supportive service for you to explore your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours and draw your own conclusions. No matter how adjusted and grounded we feel, situations and difficulties may and will arise in our lives. A series of therapy sessions can enable you to find a manageable way to deal with these difficulties so that you can carry on living a satisfying and joyful life.
The Shape of Therapy
Everyone’s experience of Psychotherapy and Counselling will be different as we are all unique beings with unique experiences, unique issues and unique thoughts, feelings and beliefs. It is likely that the therapeutic journey you embark on, therefore, will be unique to you – and this is important. There are, however, certain stages that you can expect to occur along this path. These can appear as follows:
1. When a client first comes to therapy it is encouraged that they explain, to the therapist, the things that they would like to look at and explore in their sessions. During these initial meetings the client and therapist can agree on the aims of the therapy, being sure to decide upon or make reference to positive outcomes sought by the client. While these aims can be moveable as the work develops, it is important that both client and therapist have a common direction in mind, if the work is to be productive.
2. The next stage of therapy requires that the client and therapist build a good working alliance, a relationship. It is of great importance that the client feels safe and understood. This forms the basis of a healthy relationship. During this stage the client has the opportunity to talk more about the reasons they wish to be in therapy, while the therapist listens, attentively, and enquires, sensitively, about the clients experience of life. It is really important at this stage that the therapist attempts to get inside a client’s reality and see things from their perspective. This promotes understanding by the therapist.
During this stage patterns may start to emerge and the therapist and client can note these reoccurring themes in order to work towards finding meaning.
3. Throughout the therapeutic work the therapist will facilitate the client’s talking about themselves and their experiences, offering observations that will increase the client’s self awareness. The client will also be encouraged to make associations and links between the past and the present. How things were for them in the past and how that informs their functioning in the world today. This is really important in the service of developing self awareness and clearing the path for choice.
4. Once the client has increased self awareness they can then make decisions and look at bringing about the changes they desire from a conscious place, no longer bound by the past. They can now choose to operate from a new perspective, if they wish. The client has experienced a supportive, intimate relationship with an other where open communication in encouraged and met with high regard and they can choose to take this experience forward into their every day life.