Talk it through

29 Jul

I’m a great believer in talking therapies. The release one achieves instantly once a problem is vocalised is nothing short of amazing. A neutral space with an objective outsider, and a little trust can achieve wonders.

It’s not for everyone I know. I have friends who are very vocal in their dismissal of therapists generally, usually as a result of the therapist pointing out some problem with their client that the client is not prepared to recognise. Or maybe they simply didn’t hear what they wanted to hear.

A good therapist should challenge your status quo and get you to reconsider your circumstances and choices and reasoning. Mine have frequently prompted substantial revaluations for which I am very glad.

Entering the therapist’s space one needs to take courage. Be prepared to bare one’s soul utterly. To be completely vulnerable in order to build strength. To admit to failings and wrong-doings in oneself and not to simply use it as a means of attacking some absent party. 

I imagine the Roman Catholic confessional works in the same sort of way -and I can see some benefit in sharing one’s issues with a priest. But the fusion of faith and fear makes for an uneasy mental freedom. Religious belief can be a strength but people are people and a more secular approach is required to understand complexities of others.

I have returned recently to counselling after a lengthy planned sojourn. Once more I find myself sharing my innermost thoughts and life experiences with a comparative stranger. Each session is a roller-coaster of emotions: joy, sadness, frustration, anger, hope. The things I don’t share with friends find release. My words are probed, my meaning clarified, my agenda questioned.

For me formal therapy was a way of dealing with abuse. It was a safer way of handling trauma because it was expressed rather than internalised. I wasn’t resorting to medications, alcohol or risky sex (all classic coping methodologies). It prevented me from slipping down that rabbit hole of navel gazing, stopped me from shutting the world out. It has given me an outreach in a life post-abuse. Someone not tainted by prejudices of being my personal friend. Someone trained to spot warning signs lest I risk harm to myself or someone else. It provides constant reassurance that I’m not ‘mad’, that my trauma isn’t imagined. Those who have been in abusive relationships will be all too familiar with attempts to discredit one’s sanity.

I like therapy because one doesn’t lie there. There’s no compulsion to fabricate. Self-editing one’s story is negated by the stream-of-consciousness narratives, the unanticipated questions and desire to be through and frank.

Taking therapy in my experience helps the client help themselves. 

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