The process of what happens in therapy is easy to understand. While dealing with emotional states, and gaining insight into our behaviors may be more complicated, it helps to know the steps that will be taken, to assess at any given time, where you are in the process.
1. What do you want? Four small words which can present a very complex dilemma. After all, how can we be happy until we clearly define what it is we are seeking? People tend to know that they are unhappy, and while caught up in the negative emotions of that distress, they are not easily able to define the nature of their needs. This takes a process of self discovery first.
2. What have you needed to do, in order to get what you want out of life? This part of the therapeutic work deals with coping skills, self esteem, understanding your resources and exploring additional options of which you may not be aware.
3. What has prevented you in the past from being able to achieve what you need? Hmmm... This is where your therapist can be of the most value to you. Learning how are own thinking, feelings, and subsequent behaviors can actually be what is preventing the results we seek can be a great learning experience. It might mean going back to look at life from the very beginning to assess the information we were given about how to deal effectively in our world. Stepping outside our lives, and seeing what has happened to us, through the eyes of another person, can really help to gain a totally new perspective.
It can cause a lot of confusion, when we try to understand ourselves, and it can be painful to recall some of our past experiences. These periods of confusion are normal in the process of change, but nevertheless are difficult. It helps to have a "guide" to help keep the momentum through this uncharted territory.
We tend to avoid emotional pain and usually take the path of least resistance. With the aid of a therapist the painful, negative, and avoided emotions are shared, defined, explained and put in the healthiest context. The therapist is also trained to help you understand unconscious processes which come into play, effecting your emotions and behaviors, but are not readily apparent.
The more understanding you gain the more your sense of control increases, until you take over as your own guide. This process of emotional development leads to changes which can bring an increased sense of hope, self esteem, and confidence to meet your goals in life. What a wonderful exchange for the anxiety, depression, and hopelessness people deal with daily. It can be a hard, but ultimately a very exciting adventure!