Why do people come to psychotherapy?
Many people consider psychotherapy when they are troubled or challenged by life in some way. They may be having difficulty coping with events that have happened to them or to a loved one. This might be an accident, an illness or bereavement. Sometimes people are looking for ways to manage, or to overcome feelings of isolation, depression, anger, anxiety states, chemical dependencies, addictions, relationship or sexual difficulties. Sometimes they are struggling with symptoms such as eating disorders or illnesses that do not have an apparent physical cause.
What is psychotherapy?
‘Psychotherapy’ is a modern term taken from two words of the Greek language. Roughly translated the words mean ‘to give devoted attention to the soul’. The word ‘soul’ in this case does not refer to a disembodied state that we may or may not reach when we die. Instead it suggests that soul is one of two sides of our life right here and right now. The more familiar side is our conscious life of hopes, fears, plans and intentions. The more mysterious side, the soul side, has more to do with a bigger pattern of growth or development. This is far more difficult to grasp or understand. It is very often our symptoms and struggles in life that draw our attention to matters of the soul. Sometimes when people look back at their trials it seems as if the end result was to move them forward in life. It is as though the difficult symptoms were, all the time, a way of enabling ourselves to become more than we were before. The aim of psychotherapy, in this sense of the word, is to offer support and assistance to people who are seeking to find meaning and significance in the midst of life’s confusing struggles.
What happens in psychotherapy?
The main approach of this work is to ‘give form to the soul’ so that what was unknown starts to become apparent and may be more easily dealt with. Most usually this is done simply by talking - so that what has not been expressed may be put into words and made clear. We also give attention to how we express ourselves emotionally and with the body. Sometimes we may explore dreams and images. Additionally, at times, some people find it helpful to express themselves using the creative arts. In all these ways we aim to draw out the untold story and discover a deeper level of understanding.