- DEFINITION: Treatment of mental or emotional disorder or of related bodily ills by psychological means.
Psychology: The scienze of mind and behaviour.
Psycho: breath, principle of lif, soul, mind, mental process and activities
(refer to The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th. edition, 2003)
- When and why it is wise to start.
Undertaking psychotherapy also means undertaking the path of awareness. Awareness is the most liberal and important part of ourselves.. Awareness is not thought nor feeling, it is rather attention, the attention that allows us to get in touch with our thoughts and feelings.
Cultivating awareness also means increasing our understanding and love towards ourselves. And consequently towards others and the world around us.
In order to know if we need to go to a psychotherapist, we must start to realize that, at any point in our lives, we might have to deal with something in ourselves that is disturbing. It might be a habit, an emotion, an attitude. Should we change it? And, when it’s advisable and beneficial to change it? Also, How to do it?
Is this the right time to look for a psychotherapist? For someone to talk about what makes us feel dissatisfied in our life, or in ourselves?
Do we often feel distressed or sad? We might have discussed with a friend about a problem of ours, and he, or she, tried to give us good advice, but that was not enough to find a viable way out of the problem.
There are times when our relationships make us feel dissatisfied, we do not know what to do to get the troublesome situation changed. Sometimes we reflect too much about an issue without imagining a suitable way out. A great Zen Master says: “The way out is the way in”.
Looking deeply inside orselves is easier with a Therapist who is used to solving problems in his/her own life, and his/her patients’.
When we think that we can’t solve it by ourselves, it could be useful to look for a different way out to solve our problem, a different point of view of our issue, given by a professional. If we are proud, it may be difficult for us to admit that we need help, or at least need to exchange with someone else views about our life.
Being ashamed when looking for a therapist is not befitting.
Until just some decades ago in Italy people had the wrong biased opinion that “psychotherapy is for crazy people only.”
Nowadays, and especially after two years of pandemia, we accept that human beings are made of body and mind, and that mind also needs to be looked after!
Lock down times have often revealed all the subterranean conflicts living in our families; conflicts that were kept hidden thanks to everyday routine and the possibility of meeting friends and going out during weekends.
Conflicts were hidden also by the possibility of spending most of the day working or studying outside our home, meeting various people.
Troubles in a relationship is one of the main reasons why people search the help of a therapist.
About any kind of relationship, between partners, with parents, with in laws, with children, we suspect that if we changed this or that among our attitudes, we could get along well, but which attitude has to be changed? and how to change? And why he or she is behaving so badly… We think we should become more self-affirmative with our bosses or colleagues, for instance, to be less stressed and frustrated.
Psychotherapists are OK to make us understand people, and ourselves, because they are trained to clarify and solve situations.
And, of course, a therapist is advisable to treat somebody who is frequently anxious, or melancholic, with panic attacks or obsessive fears. Sometimes you can live with your phobias, but receiving a diagnosis and a treatment is better, because at times phobias could get you into worse situations…
Relating for some time with a Therapist makes us realize what empathy is about.
It is natural for human beings to feel in themselves what another person you are looking at, or talking to, is feeling at that moment. But if we haven’t grown up with empathic parents or relatives, our natural inborn empathy drowned while we learned those many intellectual attitudes a child learns during the period from childhood to become an adult.
Unfortunately, there is no good relationship if there is no empathy in both persons; and scientists have observed that we need peolpe who look at us with empathy in order to gain and keep good mental health. We need empathy from birth to death!
If the psychotherapist you’ve chosen is really such one, that is, able to heal, you will deeply understand what empathy is about: the therapist will make you feel seen, understood, valued. A therapist is a mirror, exactly what we should be one to another: he or she is a good mirror, reflecting what you are, giving you, by the simple act of reflecting who you are, a most important feeling: being alive, and precious.
A good therapist is a kind of wise and skilled mirror, who first and foremost helps us to have a better relationship with ourselves. Accept more, and love more one’s self. Of course a therapy is useful to enhance our self-esteem.
Usually we “try” our relationship with the chosen therapist for two or three sessions. It’s better to meet a therapist whose words instill trust.
We should feel that she/he is really listening to us, without judgements or criticism. Sometimes, since the first meetings you might feel sympathy and nearness between you. You may feel welcomed and contained, encompassed.
When the relationship with the Therapist is good, we feel emotionally relevant what he/she says.
Sometimes our opinion about the person who is creating problems in our life might fortunately change or we can become more affirmative, and stop to undervalue ourself, stop to idealize the other person, who we might have overestimated. As we become more tolerant with our shortcomings, we should become more tolerant towards other people too…
These are some of the good effects that a good therapy can bring about in our life. Experiencing the therapist’s empathy we open our heart to our natural power of loving kindness, learning to understand more the suffering, the difficulties and problems of other persons. Even if we haven’t been raised by empathic parents, we can resume innate empathy at any moment in our life.
Very young children are naturally helpful if they see that another child is in trouble!
I feel it’s important in the present talk to linger over the practice of “mirroring”. Mirroring is a fundamental attitude in raising healthy children. When he/she feel they are really seen by the person taking care of them or other important persons, the child feels that he/she is loved, understood, accepted, enhanced.
A mirroring person is also a guide, similar to the role Virgilio played for Dante visiting the dark cave of hell.
Having lived a deep, intimate relationship with one person, the therapist, we might be surprised in finding that also our relationships in every day life have become deeper…and more interesting.
The last point I’ll talk about is our dreams. As a Psychotherapist who studied Carl Gustav Jung’s work, and Assagioli Roberto’s work, who both treasured the symbolic world, I am used to encourage my patients to remember their night dreams, write them down, and relate during our sessions. In my experience, dreams carry messages that help understanding the personality and life situation of a person.
If you are not used to remembering and writing down your own dreams (writing them is necessary to remember them, as they appear in a language, very different from our everyday language), the outcome will be amazing and will enrich your life!
You will gradually become acquainted with symbols, with a better understanding of arts and metaphors, and in the long run, become more creative!