There are two key questions that many clients want to address when they come for an initial session of psychotherapy, and they are questions that they sometimes hesitate to say out loud, perhaps for fear of sounding silly, or for fear of what my answer may be.
First, am I mad? It is a very common experience to have symptoms that are distressing, and that leave us questioning whether we are normal, or sane, or functioning. The more we think about our symptoms, the worse they appear to get, and the more disturbed we are by them. It is at this point that people often reach out, feeling unable to cope with their pain by themselves any longer.
Fortunately, this is not necessarily, or usually, a sign of madness. It is an invitation for the client to begin to explore their own experience more fully, approaching the areas they find uncomfortable and threatening, and coming to understand what is happening for them and how it is happening. It is most often the case that symptoms can come to be understood as a distress call, bringing attention to something that needs healing. Quite the reverse of causing us to lose reality, they seek to wake us up and help us connect with our full selves, even the bits that are hurting.
This brings me to the second question I am very frequently asked. Can you help? Given that the work of exploring our inner world requires a safe and honouring context, I am most often pleased to be able to answer simply yes, expressing that I believe the client can heal, and I believe that together we can help this to happen. Feeling we are not alone in our pain and there is a way forward can itself begin to relieve symptoms, and start the healing process.
Psychotherapy can be a powerful intervention, and yet it is really what clients do in between sessions that makes the difference. The therapy room is a crucible, it provides a catalyst, but it is within the client, out there in the world, that the real magic happens.
If you would like to go places that currently feel out of reach, then get in touch.