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How can talking about my feelings help me?

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Not long ago, I was saying that by the end of the year I will respond to the most frequent three questions I hear in my therapy office. About the first one („Why am I the one who has to change?”) I wrote quite recently.

Today we move on to the next one. Talking about one’s feelings – and how can it help?

I meet a lot of people saying:  I do not need to talk to a therapist. I can as well confess to a friend, s/he can give me good advice, and, moreover, I do not have to pay him/her for listening to me. What’s more, it’s easier for me to talk to a person I know. Is this correct? Yes and no.

It’s true that any close person can be a valuable resource in the therapeutic process. You meet your therapist one hour per week, whilst a close friend will accompany you for a longer period of time. I always encourage my clients* to discuss with their close ones some of the things we talk about in my office, if they consider it useful. In this way, they can benefit of an enlarged support in their effort of change.

However, this is not enough. What is the benefit to discuss with a therapist? What is the purpose of a weekly 50 minutes meeting to ask for a paid qualified support? What’s the use of talking?

Below are five of the benefits:

  1. Talking orders one’s mind. Thinking is like a playful child, always restless, always inconsistent. Similar to writing, talking forces the thought to become more disciplined, to get shape, to be firmly contoured. And, more importantly, to have a logic that lets all imperfections and all wounds be seen, as without this lucid look no healing is ever possible.
  2. Talking gets information from all the hide & seek places. I have witnessed many times small revelations such as: “Wait, it’s only now that, by saying this to you, I realize that actually…” and “It’s strange, I have never thought about this before!” Talking has the merit of making us more aware about our thoughts.
  3. The therapist is trained to identify dysfunctional thinking and reaction patterns. The therapist is not any kind of listener. Unlike a close friend, the therapist has ‘secret little boxes’, obtained throughout the long training years, in which life stories, frustrations, and failures lay carefully and exhibit their ties: weak, vulnerable, solid, dishonest, authentic…
  4. The therapist does not provide advice. S/he is a ‘benevolent mirror’ reflecting back, in a more distilled way, what she has captured from the client. Friends, colleagues or relatives give advices; they are sometimes experts on how we should be living our lives. Therapists refrain themselves from doing this. Who am I to take the arrogance to tell you how you should be living your life? The psychotherapist is like a trainer for an athlete: he can give him the water and the towel and will encourage him constantly, but he will never perform in his place. Some clients feel disappointed about it: what, I come here and you do not tell me what to do? What kind of a therapist are you? I am a therapist that trusts you to find the solution in yourself, with my help. I am a therapist that respects you enough as not to dictate how you should live your life.
  5. The therapist is bound by oath (similar to the Hippocrates’ oath for medical services) to keep full confidentiality on the things disclosed in her office. She provides full confidentiality for the souls that open up in her palm, hoping to heal themselves.

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*I will refer to the client-patient difference in another post.

Note. I do not think there is a picture that can better illustrate this post than Mind Essence’s own logo. It has been created in Brasil by a talented artist, Jonas Mateus and skillfully edited by Mihai Vasilescu (enhance-solutions.ro). The logo says: we are empathic, me and my client, we look the same direction and work together to solve the issues. However, we will always be different from each other and that is a good thing because, when therapy ends, the client continues his life journey. It is a good thing because the therapist cannot live all the existences of the people that share their lives with him.

Cum ma poate ajuta daca vorbesc despre ce simt?

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Spuneam cu ceva timp in urma ca pana la final de an raspund la principalele trei intrebari pe care le aud in cabinet. Despre prima dintre ele („De ce sunt eu cel care trebuie sa se schimbe?”) am scris acum doua saptamani.

Astazi mergem mai departe. A vorbi despre ceea ce simti – in ce fel te ajuta?

Intalnesc multi oameni care spun: de vorbit pot sa vorbesc si cu o prietena, sfaturi imi poate da si ea, imi e mai usor sa discut cu o persoana cunoscuta, si mai ales pe care nu trebuie sa o platesc ca sa ma asculte. Corect? Da si nu. Mai ales nu.

Este adevarat ca orice persoana apropiata poate fi o resursa-ajutor deloc de neglijat in procesul terapeutic. Cu terapeutul te intalnesti o ora pe saptamana, in timp ce o persoana apropiata iti este la indemana mult mai mult timp. Chiar imi incurajez clientii* sa discute unele dintre lucrurile pe care le vorbim la cabinet cu cei de acasa, in masura in care considera util, pentru a beneficia si de suportul lor  in efortul de schimbare prin care trec.

Cu toate astea, nu este suficient. Care este, asadar, beneficiul de a discuta cu un terapeut? Care e rostul unei vizite saptamanale de 50 de minute pentru a cere ajutor calificat platit? Ce rost are vorbaria?

Iata mai jos cinci dintre beneficii:

1. Vorbitul pune ordine in ganduri. Gandul e un copil fugar si pus pe sotii, care nu are consistenta. La fel ca si scrisul, vorbitul obliga gandul sa se disciplineze, sa prinda forma, sa aiba contur. Si, cel mai important, sa se astearna intr-o logica ce lasa sa se vada toate imperfectiunile si toate ranile, caci fara aceasta privire lucida nici o vindecare nu este posibila.

2. Vorbitul scoate de prin cotloane informatii si legaturi mai putin constientizate. Am asistat, de nenumarate ori, la „Stai, abia acum cand spun lucrurile astea, imi dau seama ca de fapt…” si „Ciudat, nu m-am gandit niciodata la asta pana acum!”. Vorbitul are meritul de a ne face mai constienti de ganduri.

3. Terapeutul este trainuit sa identifice patternuri disfunctionale de gandire si reactie. Terapeutul nu este un ascultator ca oricare altul. Spre deosebire de un prieten, terapeutul are ‘cutiute secrete’, obtinute in ani de formare, in care istoriile de viata, frustrarile, neimplinirile se aseaza cu grija si isi arata legaturile: slabe, vulnerabile, solide, mincinoase, autentice…

4. Terapeutul nu da sfaturi. El este o ‘oglinda binevoitoare’ care reflecta inapoi, intr-o forma mai distilata, ceea ce a receptat de la client. Prietenii, colegii, rudele dau sfaturi, ei sunt, de multe ori, experti in cum sa ne traim viata. Terapeutii nu. Cine sunt eu sa imi asum aroganta de a-ti spune cum sa-ti traiesti viata? Psihoterapeutul este precum un antrenor pentru un atlet: eventual, ii poate da apa si prosopul si il incurajeaza de pe margine, insa nu va alerga niciodata in locul lui. Unii clienti se simt dezamagiti de asta: cum, vin aici si nu-mi spui ce sa fac? Ce fel de psiholog esti tu? Unul care are incredere ca poti gasi solutia in tine insuti, cu ajutorul meu. Unul care te respecta suficient de mult incat sa nu dicteze cum sa traiesti.

5. Terapeutul este legat prin „juramant” (similar juramantului lui Hipocrate, in cazul medicilor) sa pastreze confidentialitatea deplina asupra celor discutate in cabinet. Asupra sufletelor care se deschid in palma sa in speranta vindecarii.

Revin, pana la finalul anului, asa cum am promis, si cu raspunsul la cea de-a treia intrebare: „Care e rata ta de succes – cati clienti isi rezolva problema fata de cati vin la terapie”?

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*despre distinctia client-pacient, intr-o postare viitoare.

Nota. Nu cred ca exista fotografie care ilustreaza mai bine postarea asta decat chiar logo-ul Mind Essence, realizat hat-departe in Brazilia pentru mine de un artist talentat, Jonas Mateus si editat apoi cu pricepere de Mihai Vasilescu (enhance-solutions.ro). El spune asa: suntem empatici, eu si clientul meu, privim in aceeasi directie si lucram impreuna sa solutionam problema, insa mereu vom fi distincti unul de celalalt si asta e bine. E bine, pentru ca, la incheierea terapiei, clientul merge mai departe. E bine pentru ca terapeutul nu poate trai el insusi vietile tuturor celor care i le incredinteaza.

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