What is psychotherapy? Twenty years a growing…

What is psychotherapy? Twenty years a growing…

I walked into a psychotherapist’s office almost twenty years ago, with some uncertain sense of trepidation. She asked me what I had come for. I responded that I needed to complete 20 hours of therapy in order to enrol on a personal development course I had in mind. I didn’t realise that this would be the start of an almost unbroken series of talk therapy in all types of different modalities. And I thought I would set down what I have concluded about the work I have done so far and what is my outlook for the future.

So, what type of therapy have I done. My first therapist was an integrative, psyhcosynthesis, therapist. I then worked for a number of years with a Jungian analyst. My next work was in a group analytic context, and I have the last four years working with a Freudian/Lacanian psychoanalyst. All in all, I estimate that I have been in a therpeutic context for over 800 clinical hours, not to mention the additional workload of professional supervision.

It’s been a long road and I can honestly say that I cannot unequivocally say that I know if I have changed. That’s the truth. But what I do know for sure is that I have become more settled inside of myself, generally less anxious, more comfortable in being able to accept myself for what I am.

The main lesson I have taken from all of the therapy work is an understanding that I have a part in everything that is going on in my life. Yes, it’s frequently true that what others do has an impact on the outcomes in my life but the common denominator is always myself. As one therapist said to me: “it comes as a great surprise to people that where they end up is usually to do with themselves”. My usual starting point these days is to ask myself the question as to what I have contributed to a situation, rather than starting by blaming others. And that is usually my starting point when working with clients.

And, in a similar vein, I adopt pretty much the same approach when I consider my life in my family upbringing. Familial relationships always leave a mark, and I see this much more readily when I am working with clients. Sure, my family wasn’t perfect but neither is anybody’s. All I can do is continue to speak, articulate, amplify and trust that the process of speaking and being hard will help in developing a clearer and more helpful narrative.

What I have appreciated most in the work I have done so far is being listened to a non-judgemental way. And, in return, a phrase I use frequently with my own clients is that, in relation to what troubles them, there are aspects that they don’t know, can’t know, that are of importance and that they can only be revealed in the speaking out.

I started out in my work with a sense of disbelief that people could get better simply by the process of speaking and being heard. I know this to be true, absolutely true. And hence I continue my own therapeutic process each week and I encourage others to come to meet and do the same. I know of no other way to keep a good sense of well-being. Will I be doing it for another twenty years? All to be revealed.

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