Due to new information lately, there is so much I want to write about and I decided to write about one of the main topics of the period for me, the process of psychotherapy through the experience of the psychotherapist (the writer that is).
I noticed that a lot has been written about the issues that are being addressed in a therapeutic context, but much less about what really happens in the therapeutic space.
Often people ask me: What are the differences between psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy? Are you not influenced and burdened with people's problems?' 'What issues do you specialize in?' in an effort to untangle the external knot of knowledge: 'what different is psychotherapy to other therapies?' and the internal knot: 'sounds interesting work but luckily I don't need it', I have good friends', 'do you think I need it? What could I possibly face if I decide to to start therapy?', 'Do people really need it or do they become addicted to treatment in order for the healer/therapist to get paid? '
In no way do I pretend that psychotherapy would work for everyone or it is the only way of self-knowledge. Similarly, psychotherapy neither should nor can replace a friendship since its goals and terms as a relationship are different.
All these questions, thoughts and feelings are normal and human. In an unknown space anything can potentially happen, one of them is to feel threatened, so the mechanisms of protection and defence are activated to confront the threat, to ensure survival and not to suffer any losses. Exactly the same mechanisms (along with others of course) we helped us to become the most powerful being on the planet overruling all others.
But what is under threat in therapy (before and during it)? ... The identity and the sense of self.
Is there anything more scary than to enter in a place where you agree to explore who you really are, how and why you have made choices and what is it that you essentially asking for your life?
Psychotherapy actually began with Freud (psychoanalysis) as studies of 'abnormal' psychological behaviours that could not be explained based on the existing at the time model of understanding of human behaviour. Schizophrenia in the west was a disease while in other cultures it was considered a gift that some people had to communicate with other worlds.
Later, psychotherapy evolved with the study of the first relationships of a child as determining factors of psychology and behaviour (Psychodynamic, Attachment theory, Objects relation theory etc.). It continued with the study of human motivation and what it means to be human (humanistic movement), the existential problems of human condition (existentialism) and of course it ends with spirituality the (transpersonal).
It's an impressive step by step journey of the human spirit in trying to understand itself!
Psychotherapy (at least the one I trained in and offering now) is not only about healing, about what is wrong and what needs to be fixed, but mainly through the wound, the crevice and the need that was not met, about a deeper discovery of who we truly are in essence, what do we do in this world and what really makes us happy and in harmony with our environment.
For some people this quest is a waste of time as they have found their absolute answers in the enjoyment of consuming something material, in the structure of their lives as they are (e.g. family, work, etc.), in the orders of their religion etc.
In how someone gives meaning to his/ her own life, there is no right and wrong but what matters is what the person feels is important, worthy of attention and useful. of and for their lives.
As a psychotherapist I don't have a list in my head of what people who sit in front of me should do to feel good and happy in their lives. I do not prescribe drugs, nor do I give diagnoses based on textbooks as psychiatrists do. I have not studied thoroughly the research and theories explaining how many people experience something similar and what do they do to get better as psychologists do.
Having had my own therapy for years and continuing the quest for self discovery, I, firstly, sit opposite someone as another human being (yes with a specific education, with my own views and attitude in life etc). This relationship has no agenda from me besides the agreed terms of the therapy, which is exactly why I use the ' therapeutic agreement ' which explains exactly the terms of the relationship.
As another human being, then, who may be a little further on his exploration journey, I too have my own fears, insecurities, weaknesses and also strengths, qualities, truth and values. All of these are the things that make me human and eventually allow me to do this job, because I can resonate and relate to and empirically relate to a person's path of exploration and creation of a more authentic and creative Self.
Of course my experience and development may have limitations and that is why I do not pretend that I can necessarily help anyone who comes before me.
As another human being, I remember and understand that I do not have the absolute knowledge and that every person knows better himself and for himself; I learn from every person because we are all different; I recognise my areas of improvement both on a personal and a professional level; I follow sometimes as a spectator and sometimes as an assistant other people on their life journeys.
The whole of all these journeys is for me the totality of all mankind's journey that is part of the journey of all existence.