On Psychotherapy

When deciding to go into psychotherapy, several things should be considered. Usually, people search for the aid of a psychotherapist when attempts at resolving problems by themselves turn out unsuccessful. In all likelihood, our “blind-spots” are so glaring that we can’t see the issues and the way people react to our behavior motivate us to face the need for some kind of intervention. We may be getting subtle or direct messages that things we are doing are causing problems in our relationships with others or they are concerned we are expressing self-destructive patterns. The other case may be the development of physical symptoms. In any event, it is important to be evaluated first by a doctor and , if warranted, undergo examinations to determine if there are physical causes. Once that has been completed and ruled out, the search for a psychotherapist who can help us is the next step.

The Child WhithinThe basic premise of psychotherapy is an artificially created relationship, specifically designed for the needs of the patient. The Therapist (ideally) provides an atmosphere that will be considered “objective and neutral on behalf of the patient,” so that the person can convey their feelings free from any constraints or judgements. Hopefully, to help the patient open up and share their problems in an environment which offers them the opportunity to look at those issues without prior editing. The therapist is there to use his/her skill and training by focusing on the things that appear to connect the issues, identify the important themes that cause the patient to seek help and assist them in working through the process that will lead to resolution through personal insight.

Often, what happens in therapy is not exactly as it should progress. Many patients enter psychotherapy and wind up being in therapy for years. The process, which initially was to assist them in resolving their problems, leads to many other things that can complicate and prolong the therapy beyond what was initially intended. The relationship between the patient and the therapist can become the focus of the therapy when the patient projects feelings onto the therapist (transference) and the therapist may project his feelings onto the patient (counter- transference). A skilled practitioner can avoid some of these problems by utilizing the transference as a tool in therapy, however finding someone with that skill is not easy. Other factors may be that the patient edits the material, then 95 percent of the therapy involves overcoming thepatient’s resistance to sharing information.

Psychotherapy 1Holistic PsychotherapySome of these problems can be avoided if the person has clearly delineated goals from the onset. Am I looking for long-term therapy or short term therapy? Are the problems I’m trying to resolve specific or generalized? Am I clear that it’s my responsibility to choose a skilled therapist I am comfortable with and that I have no obligation to except to pay the fee that has been agreed upon? And finally, Am I aware, as a patient, that the things I don’t consider important or feel uncomfortable about are the very things I should be talking about?

Going into therapy is not about making a friend, nor is it about being concerned with the things that usually concern us in friendships and other relationships. It is about getting help, and it is about accepting responsibility for discussing the things that we consider unimportant, or that we bury because we are embarrassed by them.

Common GroundsWe have to remember that the things that cause us to enter therapy are often related to our blind spots, the things in our personality we don’t see because we are too close to or fear. We need to remember that the purpose of therapy is to help us see the things these blind spots prevent us from acknowledging and assist us in gaining insight into our patterns of behavior that make us unhappy.

If we keep these things in mind, psychotherapy can be helpful, successful, time-limited and cost-effective in a way that will give us the help we need to enrich our lives.