A View of Psychotherapy
‘Psychotherapy’, ‘Counselling’, and ‘Counselling Psychology’ offer ways to explore personal experiences in order to increase individual understanding, allow emotional healing, assist recovery from difficulties, and deepen relationships, including our relationship to life itself.
No one is an expert on how to live. I suggest that when searching for a counsellor, psychologist, or therapist, a potential client might consider navigating with their ‘felt sense’ in order to find a person that they feel they will be able to relate to, someone who is open to self-examination as well as interested in the worlds of other people. Although the practitioner’s experience, education, and credentials may be important, this is a person-to-person relationship before it is anything else. As in any relationship, client and therapist need to ask themselves, ‘can I engage with this person’? Research consistently shows that no matter what other useful and important things are offered in therapy, its effectiveness rests upon the person-to-person human relationship between client and therapist. Even if the session is via skype or on the telephone, the interaction between the people remains a crucial vehicle for change.
For me, psychotherapy is also a dialogue of depth. No matter how the problem or issue initially presents itself, it often connects to important life questions about how we want to live, and what is meaningful to us. These ‘existential’ questions make us human and inspire us to contemplate together.
Therapy incorporates qualities such as attentiveness, compassion, courage, and honesty. It is sometimes a challenging, but always respectful, engagement with another person.
My practice incorporates a democratic approach that accepts and welcomes back aspects of the self that are often judged, exiled and ostracised, by ourselves and others. Therapy helps us to develop creative actions and more satisfying ways of living day-to-day. Explorations in therapy lead to action steps in life.
Therapy is ideally a refuge where we can slow down and dwell with something that is initially confusing and unclear until it gradually reveals itself. This revelation usually brings relief we can feel, and enables new choices and opportunities in our life situations. Being able to live from our unique sense of authenticity increases our experience of self-worth. Each client decides how they would like to work, but presumably including all levels – cognitive, behavioural, relational & emotional – in order to achieve lasting change.
Greg Madison, PhD