Sigmund Freud and his early collaborator, Joseph Breuer, stumbled onto a way of working with people in emotional distress that Breuer called ‘the talking cure’. Well over a century later we know just how helpful it can be for someone to talk about their thoughts, feelings behaviours and difficulties, to go through the process of putting them into words and having them appreciated and understood by a therapist; the therapist and client can then piece things together, make sense of them, and come to a fuller, and probably different, understanding of the issue. This is the essence of psychotherapy.
The process of putting things into words and understanding what is going on makes a difference to the way we feel about our difficulties and struggles, and how we deal with them – we can come to ‘contain’ them in this way, and also to feel differently about ourselves. Rather than avoiding what we feel, we can come to face it and become congruent and at peace with ourselves.
The past and the present
There is something of a myth that psychotherapy is ‘all about your childhood'. This is not the case. The early years of your life are vitally important in forming the individual you are today, and to a greater or lesser degree, determines how you feel about yourself and relate to others. Understanding current difficulties in terms of the past is only one element of psychotherapy however, and so whilst acknowledging we do bring our past into the present, the basis of our work is about finding some resolution to your current difficulties, and any patterns which may have evolved.
The importance of the relationship
Over the years, the importance of the relationship between the therapist and client has also been recognised and extensively researched. We are primarily social beings and our patterns of relating toward others influence almost everything we do in one way or another; and is often found to be at the core of our struggles in life. Because our pattern of relating is ever present, it will inevitably shape the way we relate to the therapist.
For this reason, the therapist will often explore how we feel about the relationship to them, which may seem a little strange when you have come to explore what seems like another problem entirely! In fact. the therapist is likely to be picking up a pattern of difficulty that occurs in relationships experienced elsewhere. Addressing this pattern as it manifests in the consulting room, is accepted as a beneficial way of addressing such relational difficulties directly.
In some circumstances it can be helpful to meet more frequently, a few times per week, to give you an opportunity to address your difficulties more thoroughly. Meeting in this way provides more containment and security, so you aren’t left dealing with difficult emotions on your own, for the whole week between sessions. This facilitates an environment whereby you can properly address and explore your difficulties whilst feeling safer with deeper parts of yourself. Meeting at this frequency is known as analysis and, whilst the content of the sessions may be very similar to a psychotherapy session, the sessions may certainly feel different.
In this way, analysis provides a unique opportunity for intensive exploration of the personality and underlying patterns of behaviour. It can bring about deep-seated change. Analysis is a process that fosters the individual’s understanding of themselves and their difficulties and the way they relate to others.
If you would like to find out more about psychotherapy or to make an arrangement for an initial consultation, you can find my details on the contact page. At the initial appointment we can discuss your situation, establish whether psychotherapy would be appropriate, and discover whether I am the best person to help you through this.
Attending the initial appointment does not commit you to attending therapy. It gives a sense of what psychotherapy is like and gives you an opportunity to meet me and to see whether you would like to work with me.
Chartered Counselling Psychologist (BPS)
Registered Practitioner Psychologist (HCPC)
NLP Practitioner & Life Coach (ABNLP)