Counselling and Psychotherapy can help with a range of issues that we may find difficult overcoming by talking to friends and family. There is a significant difference in talking to a skilled professional outside of your social and family circle, someone who is formally trained and experienced in what they do and understands how to work with psychological issues. I won’t go into the differences between counselling and psychotherapy, as this has been addressed in a separate blog. Rather I will focus on what makes talking therapies so beneficial.
Providing a safe environment
Anyone going through a crisis or wanting to discuss sensitive issues needs to feel heard, validated and understood. The therapy space is one which is designed to create containment, consistency, and safety. Weekly sessions usually at the same day and time, a calm and relaxing setting without distractions, an hour dedicated to you, and a professional who creates an environment conducive of trust and safety are all important aspects of the “talking cure”. These elements comprise what we call the “therapeutic frame”, which underpins and supports the work we do as therapists.
Someone who listens but not just listens
In my opinion, listening skills are highly underestimated. Listening isn’t just about listening, but also about making sure that the other feels heard and understood. Although this is considered a basic and essential skill in any talking therapy, listening takes presence of mind, body, and spirit. It is not as easy as it seems. The last thing anyone wants is a distracted therapist or one who seems they don’t listen or understand what you are telling them. For some it can bring up painful past and present experiences of lack of care, it can also convey a lack of interest and touch on previous abandoning and rejecting experiences. So, to get the basics right is very important!
Getting stuck in
Once you have a place to come where you feel comfortable, at a set time each week, with a person you feel you can trust and speak to without being judged, then the work can begin.
“The work” can be compared to an exploration, excavation, unpicking and un-knotting of the different strands of the issue or issues that you came to talk about and get help with.
This can be sophisticated work of great skill, but also messy and clunky at times. There is much uncertainty about what will be revealed and the paths that you will walk together.
The therapist’s job is to help you keep on track, but also allow for new pathways to be discovered. This is what makes the work interesting, fascinating, and rewarding for both parties. This relationship can be one of collaboration, creation, and deconstruction. None of this is necessarily smooth or easy but knowing ourselves is always ultimately rewarding.
All the above is designed to support trust building, lessening isolation, creating space and safety amongst turbulent and uncertain situations, helping individuals regain control over their lives, feel and process difficult feelings, make sense of confusing situations and build or rebuild better relationships with self and others. Other benefits include: increased self-awareness, self-development, psychological and emotional strength and resilience, finding more meaning and purpose in life, making positive changes, and better communication amongst many other things.
On our website you can find more information about our counselling and psychotherapy services and how to contact our team.
Further reading by Sam Jahara