Take the following situation: a client seeks psychotherapy to deal with anxiety and other related physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, ABS, stomach pains, etc.
They are used to a solution-focused approach and can want quick answers from me.
I feel rushed and pulled to meet them in their anxious place – to offer solutions, set goals, etc. I can easily see the how therapy session could quickly turn into a business meeting.
I take a breath, check in with myself and see how I am feeling (pushed, rushed, slightly anxious to give solutions).
I pause and offer the following:
“It seems you want me to give you more work in addition to what you already have. This seems to be exactly what is stressing you out. What would it be like for us to slow down and focus on your experience right now?”
We both look at one another for a moment and there is a sense of confusion: “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to DO.”
The DO bit is of importance here. Everything seems to be about doing in this person’s life. I imagine most of us can relate to this way of being.
This is because many of us have not learnt to pay attention to our experience. As children we are taught to do well, achieve, win, etc. in order to be loved and recognized. However, real recognition comes from validation of experience. This means paying attention to feelings, thoughts and responses,
Through a focus on doing and achieving, we loose connection to our bodies and our feelings. This means we end up a little bit like performance machines, ticking lists and meeting deadlines. In this process we tend to forget who we are, why we do what we do and how we feel about it.
One of the goals of therapy is to facilitate this process of coming back to oneself and understanding what drives us for good or bad. We then look at what behaviours and ways of being serve you and which really don’t.
Sam Jahara is a Relational Transactional Analysis psychotherapist and supervisor, working in Hove and Lewes. Sam is also one of the founding partners of Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy.
Leave a Reply