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What is Psychotherapy? Will it Work for Me?

March 23rd, 2014 · 4 Comments · what is psychotherapy

What is psychotherapy, after all, and how could it actually connect to my life, and make a difference for me?

what is psychotherapy

How could “just talking”  make anything real happen in my life?

Distorting Stereotypes of Psychotherapy

Well, that question captures perfectly the way in which the popular understanding of psychotherapy contains an unfortunate distortion.  As Dr. John Launer recounts, an early name for psychotherapy was “The Talking Cure.”  However, that name fundamentally misses the heart of therapy, especially Jungian therapy.

Yes, therapy is all about talking.  Talking is its tool and medium.  But good therapy is much more than “just talking”.

The distorting stereotype of therapy embedded in our culture is best embodied in the image of Lucy’s therapy booth from the Peanuts cartoon strip.

what is psychotherapy

Lucy in the Peanuts strip is not a character generally distinguished by empathy.  Neither is she a person who listens very carefully.  She does, sort of, hear the person out, then immediately delivers her own glib advice —  often not very suited to the client’s situation.  The price of Lucy’s services?  Typically 5 cents — and, we tend to feel, that’s about what they’re really worth.

what is psychotherapy

A better description of psychotherapy than “the talking cure” might be “the listening cure”, “the dialogue cure” — or, even, the “relating-to-someone-else-to-get-into-better-contact-with-myself” cure!

Psychotherapy and the Undiscovered Self

What is psychotherapy?  It’s a process of dialogue with the therapist, in which a person opens up key problem dimensions and areas of pain and potential growth in his or her life.  In the course of this dialogue, at least from a depth psychotherapy point of view, the individual explores feelings and relates the story of important parts of his or her experience, for the purpose of having it sensitively reflected back and fully explored.

During this exploration, the individual may relate dreams and many other aspects of their experience which involve the unconscious — the parts of her- or himself of which the individual has not previously been aware.  Bringing the previously undiscovered self into awareness can often give the individual a different sense of identity and life, and of value and meaning. This is a highly individual process, as Jung tells us:

 

 

Psychotherapy and Your Personal Journey

What is psychotherapy?  A process of dialogue that can bring you into closer and better connection with your deepest feelings and thoughts, and your own real life.  A journey of understanding, and making choices, for our real selves.

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by  Hey Paul Studios ; “Peanuts” © United Features Syndicate, cited for the “fair use” purpose of critical examination.
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)