Therapy: What to Expect
There is a view of therapy that pictures the ‘expert’, superior therapist as sitting in remote silence while a patient does all the talking. These days the reality couldn’t be more different, with the focus on counselling as a relationship.
Your therapist is an active participant in the process, and for this reason it is important that both you and she weigh up in the first session whether you will be able to work together.
The process of therapy can be challenging – painful issues do arise, which can be at times be disturbing. But the potential rewards are great. As well as offering an emotionally charged, supportive and confiding relationship, therapy can offer you:
- A safe setting in which long-held hurts and trauma can be healed
- Greater self-awareness and knowledge and, as a result, an increased sense of control over your life
- Greater personal fulfilment and better relationships
- Skills for personal development
As an integrative therapist, I also pay particular attention to the body, as this is where many of our problems or trauma will show up – in health issues or chronic pain or tension. Many people may live in their heads, but actually a lot of our experiences in life are stored in the muscles and posture of our bodies, so it’s invaluable to pay attention to what the body is doing.
For example, if we have parents who really encourage us and want us to be strong, we’ll have a proud, strong body; but if we had parents who were critical and not supportive, we’re not going to feel that empowerment in our bodies and it will likely show in a collapsed posture. A therapy approach that taps into the body’s wisdom can help rewire the brain and restore that sense of strength.
In another example, you might be aware of being in a constant state of tension and anxiety – it could be that this tension and elevated arousal are symptoms of a movement trapped in the body, a movement perhaps that the body wanted to make in the past but couldn’t. Think of a child in a threatening situation – they will likely want to run away but there may be no safe place to run to, so their body freezes instead and the movement is suppressed. Sensorimotor psychotherapy can help recalibrate the nervous system and release this tension. This approach does not require touch.