February 16th, 2014 · psychotherapist
I’ve being writing several posts about what to look for in a good depth psychotherapist, and what to expect if you go to see one — but what actual good does it do you, if you do?
Clearly, depth psychotherapy won’t save the world. Despite the number of big media therapists on daytime and prime time TV, therapists haven’t saved society as a whole. But then, expecting psychotherapists to redeem the world from its social ills is a bit off base.
The question is really much, much more individual: what can a depth psychotherapist do for you?
An Ally, on the Most Fundamental Level
There is real psychological importance to having an unfailingly supportive ally as you open up your inner life and your own deep story. We have many people in our lives, but the relationship with a psychotherapist is unique, in several ways.
One of the most important dimensions of the relationship with a depth psychotherapist is the emphasis on acceptance . There are very few relationships in life that truly strive for unconditional acceptance of the other. But that is the active goal of psychotherapy. For many people, to be listened to and accepted in this manner is something that they have never experienced before, that can create a genuine shift in their own relationship to themselves.
Similarly, many people will never have experienced a relationship where the focus is on the deepest and most fundamental things in their personal lives. As Nicholas Carr has pointed out in his book The Shallows, we live in an era where technology is pushing us towards a more and more superficial grasp of our lives. As one wit tweeted:
I used to have a deep and rich inner life ; now I have Twitter.
In this sense, psychotherapy moves in the exact opposite direction. The depth psychotherapist invites me to focus on, and be open to, the formidable richness of my inner life.
In addition, the way that the session with the psychotherapist is structured, with its strict boundaries of confidentiality, creates a safe place, a safe container for me to open up the important aspects of myself in safety, privacy, and support.
Better to Know, Than to Not Know
Working with a depth psychotherapist most often brings greater knowledge of the self. I can’t stress enough that, in the course of a human life, it’s infinitely better to have this knowledge, than not to have it. To wander through my life with no clear sense of my own identity, no knowledge of my own weaknesses and shadow, and no awareness of my deepest needs, yearnings and aspirations, is, to effectively miss living my own real life, to put it bluntly. It is also to have no real awareness of my impact on anyone else.
C.G. Jung once said, “In each of us there is another, whom we do not know.” But he also said, “It is easier to go to Mars or the moon, than it is to penetrate one’s own being.” The encounter with a depth psychotherapist does not take all the difficulty out of that journey, but it does make it a great deal easier.