I’ve been thinking lately about the work that I do. About how I actually help. I started wondering, Is there a way that I could summarize the work that I do with every one of my clients, in simple terms, regardless of their starting point?
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
When you have relationships where you trust that:
1. You and the other person can both share what you feel, need, want, and value,
2. You and the other person can both feel your emotions without getting overwhelmed by them,
3. You will be able to work together to find flexible solutions to problems that don’t require either of you to sacrifice or compromise your wellbeing (emotional, physical, social, spiritual, sexual, financial, etc.,)…
You will feel better.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to come back to that and go into a little more detail about each step of that… to talk a little more about some of the common challenges I see with clients at each phase, as well as how therapy can help to address some of those challenges. But for right now, I just want to think about the process as a whole. Because ultimately, that’s what therapy is: a process. It’s not a set of techniques I do to a client; it’s a process – a way of relating and interacting – that I engage in with a client. The other themes or topics that come up frequently in my work – growth, sexuality, attachment, trauma, communication, cycles of interaction, conflict styles, monogamy or non-monogamy, commitment, boundaries, autonomy, connection, rules and agreements, etc. – all tie back in to that process.
My hope is that the process of therapy – the relationship of therapy – will provide my clients with exactly the experience I outlined above. My clients’ relationships don’t improve by accident or by magic, and the trust I talk about in that first line isn’t a blind or naive trust; it’s a trust that’s built on the foundation of experience. In therapy, my clients experience sharing what they feel, need, desire, and value… feeling their emotions without getting overwhelmed by them… finding flexible solutions that don’t compromise their wellbeing or values. My clients’ relationships improve because the process of therapy allows clients to experience those things, and they learn to translate that experience from the therapy relationship to their other relationships.
And when I say “relationships” or “other relationships,” I’m not just talking about romantic or sexual partnerships. Even though my clients often start out by talking about their romantic or sexual relationships, the experiences they have within the therapy process often lead to my clients learning to value and maintain intimate friendships in their lives. Or to show up differently in their roles as a parent and connect differently with their children. Or with their families of origin, relating to their parents, siblings, extended family, etc. Or with colleagues. Or community.
Successful therapy doesn’t mean that my clients will never encounter difficulty in their lives or their relationships. Successful therapy means that my clients have learned to approach the difficult stuff, knowing: This is f***ing hard, and I’ve got this… We’ve got this.
As I mentioned, over the next few weeks, I’ll go through each part of that in more detail (here’s part 1, about sharing what you feel, need, want, and value) to give a sense for that that actually looks like in therapy. Until then, take care.
Feeling like therapy might be helpful for you or your relationship? Let’s talk. Use the button below to self-schedule a free 20-minute consultation with me at a time that works for you.
Have a question or a topic you’d like to read about in a future blog post? Submit your suggestion, question, or idea here.