The kind of psychotherapy I practise involves the opportunity to explore ourselves and how we relate and react to others and the world around us in a safe, contained and understanding environment. We might feel ashamed or confused about who we are, how we feel, ways we are behaving, ways we are relating to others, or ways we are reacting emotionally, and we might be struggling to make sense of our lives. Psychotherapy can help us to understand ourselves in the context of our past experiences and to realise that we are not behaving as we are because we are bad people, nor are we being stupid or weak for feeling as we are, we are simply responding to and dealing with life in the best way we can given our experiences up to now.
This can be of enormous help particularly when it feels like we can't make sense of our lives on our own. However, psychotherapy in my view more importantly grounds itself in the value of being able to have a fuller experience of ourselves, including perhaps until now more hidden and shameful emotions and aspects, in relationship with a listening, accepting and empathic other. Such hidden parts are likely to have been buried deep inside due to the ineffective responsiveness of others in our past to difficult or traumatic events and to our emotional needs growing up. However, they can continuously bubble to the surface and cause us constant inner turmoil and distress as we, either consciously or unconsciously, fight to deny them and hold our emotions back.
The aim is thus that we can come to understand and accept ourselves more fully without having to constantly hide from who we are, which I believe can drain us of energy and strip away our sense of vitality in life. Through a process of psychotherapy we can over time learn to know, accept and integrate the different aspects of ourselves and to see them in a different light, thus freeing ourselves from the hold they may have had over us and enabling us to live more fully in the present moment. It may therefore mean delving into difficult, and often painful, emotions and experiences but in a supportive, accepting and non-judgmental environment. It can help us gain new perspectives, as well as find greater meaning or purpose in our lives.