Reflections on Psychotherapy


"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

~ T. S. Elliot

All schools of therapy, be they behavioral, psychodynamic, family systems, cognitive behavioral, or others, share one basic understanding. The essence of therapy, (and what leads to successful results for clients) is not any particular theoretical orientation or techniques, but the very relationship that the therapist and client co-create in their work together. This connection becomes the source of the healing and growth that takes place.

Every human being is an utterly unique individual.
At the same time, we all share the universal human need to be understood and appreciated for who we actually are (not for who someone else needs us to be). We all have our own individual traits or characteristics, including our strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has hopes and dreams, some which remain unfulfilled. When a person enters therapy, they are usually feeling somewhat vulnerable, because they have already tried to resolve their problems and just seem to be 'stuck' and unable to move forward. People find solutions to their difficulties when they learn how to accept themselves unconditionally.

Mutual respect, patience, gentle inquisitiveness, warmth, and an empathic approach with the client should b e the norm in treatment. This is what I bring into my work with my clients. I feel both honoured and privledged to be engaged in a profession that is always creative, challenging, and humbling. I am always grateful to my clients, who have the courage to bring their innermost selves into the consultation room with me, and invite me into their 'world' to accompany them on a journey of healing and growth. The more years I've been in practice, the more mindful I have become of the beauty and resiliency of the human spirit.

Entering therapy is actually a sign of personal strength, rather than weakness. It means that you have the courage to ask for help and the maturity to grasp that there is indeed a 'bigger picture' out there. A good therapist can help you to see that larger reality, to grasp its meaning, and become empowered to make the changes that you truly want to make. Good therapy always takes the 'whole' person into account.

If you have learned to over-identify with your problems, you may frequently have thoughts like "I am nothing but a hopelessly depressed person" or "I am just not good at relationships". When you think in this manner, you have forgotten the inate power within you that is capable of healing, growth, and transformation. It is essential to learn to see yourself as a person who may be struggling with a specific problem (e.g. troubled marriage, eating disorder, anxious thinking), but realize that these problems do not define your identity. They are only one part of who you are.

Equally important to your sense of 'self' are your positive attributes, such as generosity, perserverence, creativity, and self-discipline. Your 'self' identity also includes your work and personal relationships; such as being a terrific big sister, a talented teacher, an innovative business leader. Perhaps you're the kind of person who never gives up in your chosen pursuits (be it ballet, science, sports, piano, etc.) There are many qualities that contribute to who you are, as well as inner resources that will help you to shape who you are becoming.

Effective therapy focuses on honoring those places where you have felt hurt and vulnerable, and at the same time identifying and reinforcing your inner resources, strengths, and capabilities.

Therapy should help you to reconnect with yourself as a 'whole' human being. You are much more than your losses, fears, and insecurities. Inside you is a person with unique strengths and as yet untapped talents and abilities. Therapy serves to help you rediscover the inner resources that already reside within you. Although negative or painful experiences can cause you to lose sight of these qualities, nothing can ever take these precious qualities away from you. Even though they may appear 'buried' far away, you can regain all that and more through therapy.

Therapy can help you reconnect with your higher 'self' and build upon the inner strengths that have brought you this far. It supports you in developing more effective ways of handling your problems.

Being in therapy can help you to move towards being a more mature and loving human being. In the same way that a caterpiller goes into a chrysalis to eventually emerge as a butterfly, therapy can be a safe haven in which you learn to build a more fulfilling life for yourself.

When people first come into therapy they are naturally seeking relief from the symptoms that have been troubling them. Especially important are feelings of despair, anxiety, fear, anger, detachment,and numbness. I believe that your symptoms actually help us to know in what direction the therapy needs to go. They tell us important stories about who you are. Symptoms reveal experiences you've gone through that have ended up creating psychological barriers to growth and self-defeating behaviors. When growth occurs, symptoms resolve more easily.

Throughout your work in therapy, we will pay careful attention to your 'narrative' (your stories). One of the greatest gifts of therapy is that it can help you to rewrite your personal narrative, for both the present and the future.

Therapy is especially helpful in teaching you how to 'release' and let go of old habits and patterns of behavior that no longer serve you, and keep you from reaching your goals and finding deeper happiness and a sense of purpose. As you practice what you will learn, you will achieve an increased awareness of yourself and others, more resilience and inner strength, and a greater ability to recognize, create, and sustain healthier relationshipes. Changes you make can become deeply rooted and lead to further growth throughout your lifespan.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

~ James Baldwin

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