Counselling and Psychotherapy in Horsham

I support the #UKCP call for £1.5bn extra funding and ring-fencing of the mental health budget http://thndr.me/mQdjvg

Are you OK? Of course you are!

Are you OK?” Is a question we ask a lot but do we stop to consider what it might really mean? 

In 1973, Thomas A. Harris first published his book I’m OK, you’re OK. Those words describe neatly one of the fundamental principles of the style of psychotherapy that I practice. 

Another way to think of this is that we can all aim to have unconditional personal regard for others, that deep down we are all OK, we come into the world OK and along the way we make decisions that modify our behaviour and we build a view of who we are and how we expect to be treated by others. Maybe we make assumptions that are flawed or maybe we experience things that make us feel as if we or others are not OK. 

Psychotherapy is based on the ability for people to literally and actually change their minds about who they are and how they will be in relation to others. A change of mind can be life altering and can bring us and others back to being OK. 

Changing things is going to be hard.

Ever wondered why a therapist’s website says how supportive they’ll be and how comfortable and safe their office is? It’s because it’s hard to change your mind and that’s what therapy is all about. Therapy can be very challenging and you’ll often hear a therapist say that you may feel worse before you feel better.  

Every year at about this time, many of us will be starting to feel that our resolve to keep our new year’s resolutions is slipping away. That we can’t stick to the things we decided to change. The truth is that our old ways and habits are tenacious. They are the well practiced ways of being that we have had for perhaps many years. Making changes therefore is not so much an adjustment as a revolution!

Therapy can be difficult and frightening. At stages in your therapy you may be angry and find you’ve been really challenged by your therapist, however, we are well practiced and well trained at helping people change. A therapist will guide you, help you explore your feelings, sit with you in your anger and your fear and be with you in the process of you making new decisions about who you are and who you want to be. 

I’m not just talking about giving up smoking or exercising more, I’m talking about rebuilding relationships, exploring past traumas and current anxieties, coping with and thriving after real challenges in life. 

If you’d like to know more please call or email me. 

The differences between empathy and sympathy.

Sometimes we might talk to a sympathetic friend when we struggle with something. When we talk to friends we are often reassured about our problems and how we deal with them. 

Talking to friends can be useful as they are often sympathetic. We have probably all found it soothing and reassuring to talk to someone who we feel really knows us well. 

Often we learn to cope with things that trouble us in ways that avoid confrontation. A friends comfort can give us the support we need to know that we are doing OK. 

Our sympathetic friends therefore express condolences or sadness for our plight. Sympathy might include pointing out a silver lining or something to distract from the difficulty. 

Sympathy

Feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

Working with a therapist is a very different experience. Therapy is I believe a mixture of challenge and support. As therapists we aim to be empathic not necessarily sympathetic.

Empathy

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Part of your therapist’s role is to help you to challenge your thinking and to help you connect with your feelings. This is not always done through reassurance. Therapy can be tough and challenging at a deep level. 

Perhaps a strong challenge will be the only way we will truly see something for what it is and perhaps only a strong challenge will give us the opportunity to grow and change. 

Observation. A key therapeutic skill.

Eric Berne founded Transactional Analysis on the basis that the theories he put forward were observable, and therefore verifiable. in the real world or in the client. 

A good therapist seeks to provide a relationship which their client can use to grow and understand more about themselves. That relationship develops through a therapist enquiring about and observing their client in order to build and, very importantly, to check the therapist’s understanding of how things are both for and in their client. 

Freud’s quote above seems confrontational now, even angry. Therapy now is about developing a non judgemental understanding and through that shared understanding opportunities for growth and change. 

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