“ The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors and deluding images up into the mind-whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity: for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness goes down into unsuspected Aladdin caves”
Psychotherapy is a talking therapy. It is a dialogue which a client shares with his therapist. Out of this dialogue a professional relationship develops that will help the client understand and explore his feelings, actions, reactions, perceptions, and thoughts so that he can begin to heal. The key to healing is the client becoming aware of how his patterns of behavior that stem from the past are acting out in his life in the present.
The relationship with the therapist is an important part of psychotherapy. He or she provides a confidential safe space where unconscious patterns of your mind can be brought into consciousness, worked through and resolved.
Psychotherapy is a unique, individual journey for everyone and very much depends on the interaction between client and therapist.
Psychotherapy is not about being given advice, it is more that you are the expert on your own life. The therapist guides you into realising your own desires and regrets.
Psychotherapy is a process whereby the therapist helps you to accept, value and appreciate your own life. And very often the relationship between therapist and client is the therapy.
The Purpose and Power of Psychotherapy
The purpose of psychotherapy is to help you understand, accept and love yourself a little more so that you are not at the mercy of unconscious forces that are leading you to experience discontent and misery.
The power of psychotherapy is that is respects your freedom to confront your pain and reach into its’ essence. By reaching down into the depths of your unconscious and into the heart of your soul you will find a golden key which will unlock the door of your pain.
Psychotherapy in Australia
Psychotherapy has embarked on a sea-change that is gaining popularity and growing within Australia today. Contemporary psychotherapy is no longer the work of just one man. Whilst Freud provides a foundational benchmark from which most ‘talking therapies’ are derived, today’s pluralistic, psychotherapeutic communities have expanded and revised and challenged many of Freud’s original ideas.
Contemporary relational psychotherapy has evolved out of America within a movement of dissatisfaction away from classical Freudian psycho- analysis. It has been driven by the demands of clients who seek to relate to a real person who works more visibly and openly and is essentially ‘more human’ where the therapist is open to revealing more of himself in order to formulate a more ‘real’ relationship.
Mary, once a gregarious and fun loving person fell foul to a multitude of ill health and operations that left her feeling betrayed by the medical profession, abandoned by close friends and isolated within the community and in her mind.
She tells me she is depressed and her antidepressants don’t work. They only make her feel zoned out all the time. Life holds no joy for her anymore. When she feels at her worst, she calls me and the wail of pain catches in her throat and she almost chokes. A train-load of chaotic emotions that shc cannot explain come tumbling out into the airways in a desperate hope of some relief.
“ I’m not mad, what do I need psychotherapy for ?” asked a lady who seemed quite taken a back at the suggestion that psychotherapy might help her depression and anxiety issues.
And yet people who seek psychotherapy these days are not necessarily any more mentally sick than those who do not. They are just more willing to explore themselves, to take a journey inside and face their demons so that they can feel better.
“ I’ve had enough of talking” said Dave, a young man in his early thirties, “ talking doesn’t help me.” Dave’s marriage has broken down and he has talked and talked about the situation with his wife, friends and family yet it has not helped him heal his marriage or his pain. And he is reluctant to seek help. He says he will deal with it on his own. He is not the only one.
The trouble with Dave’s approach is that he is not talking to a professional about his pain. He needs to talk to a neutral therapist who would be able to help him in a more objective and professional manner than his family or friends could.
Many people are prepared to seek help for their physical ailments but when they are suffering mentally they fail to act. Human beings have a tendency to fear the unfamiliar and to be anxious about something that they only have a vague idea about.
Psychotherapy is surrounded by a myriad of myths as a depressive society seeks to ease its pain by either succumbing to alcohol and chemical substances or preferring to keep silent. Rather than talking out about pain, many people would sooner bury it deep within themselves and suffer.
They might be successful in burying their pain for a while but it will come back up to haunt them at the most inappropriate times.
We are a pill popping society. It would seem that the majority of people think that in order to deal with the realities of life, and subsequent mental problems, taking pills prescribed by the doctor is often the quickest and most effective cure for pain.
Numerous medications, legally available, are swallowed by the mentally ill every day. And yet medications, whilst sometimes necessary, fail to deal with the origins of distress.
Medication masks the distress and fails to see the person behind the symptoms. So whilst antidepressants and anxiety medications are necessary for some, there is another more potent way to deal with mental distress.
Recent research from The American Psychological Association( Sept. 2012) shows that the effects of psychotherapy are often comparable or better than the effects produced by drug treatments for the same mental distress.
Melba J. T. Vasques, PhD who is the past president of The American Psychological Association, states that “ Every day, consumers are bombarded with ads that drugs are the answer to their problems. Our goal is to help consumers weigh those messages with research-based information about how psychotherapy can provide them with safe, effective and long lasting improvements in their mental and physical health.”
A key finding of the research states that “ Psychotherapy teaches patients life skills that last beyond the course of the treatment. The results of psychotherapy tend to last longer than psychopharmacological treatments and rarely produces harmful side effects.”
A booming pharmacological industry is not more important than the health and well being of the mentally ill who look to the ‘experts’ to heal their pain. It is important that people are educated about alternative therapies such as psychotherapy so that they can make a more informed decision about their mental health care.
For some, therapy is not something that they wish to do either because they are scared or sceptical as to whether they can be helped.
But for others psychotherapy is a powerful, transformative, experience which has changed their lives beyond recognition.
What is the biggest obstacle holding you back right now? Are you suffering from depression, anxiety or fear?
Maybe you are suffering from a relationship breakdown or a problem at work? Or maybe you are having problems in relating to other people?
What ever it is, if it is stuffing up your life then you owe it to yourself to do something about it.
If you think that psychotherapy might be worth the effort, shop around for a therapist. You are not obliged to stay with the first one you see.
Indeed it is preferable that you find a therapist that you feel comfortable with as you will not be able to discuss personal and intimate issues with someone you do not like or trust.
If you decide to give therapy a go I hope your journey into your inner depths will be a rich and rewarding experience.