Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
CARL JUNG (1875-1961)
HOW DOES TALK THERAPY WORK?
There is a writers’ saying: “How can I know what I think until I see what I say?” This is called shaping at the point of utterance. This principle applies powerfully to psychotherapy. Discussing your thoughts, feelings, emotions, conflicts and problems with another person is usually of great help. If that person is caring, professionally trained, smart, sensitive and objective, then talking with that person and exploring your difficulties and concerns can be of tremendous assistance.
Airing your thinking aloud with a professional, focused, detached and yet compassionate second ear, can help you to unpack your emotions, rethink chronic problems and worries, and live more consciously. It can give you clarity and allow you to see things in a new light. The next time you find yourself depressed; anxious; creatively blocked; in conflict with your mate or family or children; or engaging in an unhealthy behavior like reaching for a drink, fattening food, or a drug, you may be better able to comprehend why you are driven to do so, and make conscious some connections that were previously unconscious. What just happened to trigger the feeling or behavior? Why did it happen then? And most important: must it always happen like that or can you do something to prevent such deleterious behaviors from recurring?
Self-awareness and understanding are the necessary first steps to turning injurious behaviors around. Real change can only follow self-understanding. And it is such genuine changes that finally allow you to free yourself from chronic problems and live your life with greater pleasure and freedom.
A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.
ROBERT QUILLEN (1887-1948)
HOW DOES MARRIAGE/PARTNER/COUPLES COUNSELING WORK?
The aim of couples counseling is to improve communication and increase understanding between partners. As with individual talk therapy, when thoughts and feelings are brought into the light, ventilated and examined honestly, calmly and openly, then each member of the couple will be better heard, understood, sympathized with and respected. From such enhanced understanding comes increased acceptance and tolerance and forbearance. When partners understand each other they are better able to forgive, accept, appreciate, and ultimately love one another.
The main job of the marriage counselor is to provide a safe and protected space where each partner will feel safe, supported and assisted in making her or his thoughts, feelings and needs known and understood. Each member of the couple should feel secure, respected, heard, and understood. And each should be able to speak freely from the heart without being afraid or feeling negatively judged.
As one of my patients once said, “I speak in Ellie and he hears me in Matt.” (Don’t worry, I changed the names.) A counselor may act as interpreter, clarifier, mediator, translator, and intermediary. Counseling can help couples out of recurrent fights and seemingly irresolvable issues, it can allow partners to move on after an affair, and it can help you to really hear and see one another. Marriage counseling can help and succeed at every stage of a relationship, beginning, middle and even at the end where a divorce mediation process may save a great deal of pain, heartache, anger, and even some attorney’s fees.