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How Therapy helps. Psychotherapy is work, not magic.

Updated: Feb 7


"We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are." Anais Nin

 

Every day, we evolve and grow. We are not the same as the previous day simply because we have experienced another 24 hours of life. Imagine doing an intense 'go faster' evolution. That's what Psychotherapy training feels like.

 

Psychotherapists study the human condition intensively in theory and clinical practice. They must also have a depth of self-knowledge so that feelings that arise in a therapy session and to whom they belong are not conflated.

 

Some people come to therapy with the idea that Psychotherapists are skilled mind readers and, much like highly idealised, romantic partners, know their thoughts without a word being exchanged. Not so. Here is the reality. Therapy, like any relationship, requires work. The patient should attend with the intention of going to work… on themselves. The therapist relies on the patients' words, body language and unconscious communication. Such communication requires the patient to 'bring themselves to the therapy' - the long form of saying 'doing the work'. Pablo Picasso, considered a creative genius, reinforces this point, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."

 

Through this alliance, the therapist forms a gradual understanding of the patient’s view of the world. The therapist gets to metaphorically 'sit beside the patient' to get as close as possible to understanding what it's like to 'walk in their shoes'. This is because each patient views the world through the prism of their own unique, personal experiences: their formative care, their school days, relationships and, of course, their loss and trauma. Anais Nin succinctly captures this view: "We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are." Patients come to this realisation through understanding how their (often) early experiences impact their present decision-making (think of a very young, fearful, backseat driver). This is how therapy helps. Both therapist and patient can then work towards ensuring that their future is not determined in the same way and that they have the emotional understanding and vocabulary for personal growth and the ability to lead more fulfilling lives.

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