Becoming Your Own Therapist
As a Psychotherapist with a strong ethical compass, I have a particularly keen interest in ensuring that when I part company with my clients it is the last time we meet. In fact, my own doctoral studies focus on clients' experiences of continuing with self-therapy post-discharge.
Sadly, problems that lead people to seek psychological therapy have often been lifelong, arising out of terrible and enduring experiences in childhood and early life. People often present with the belief that as things have been this way for so long, how on earth could we change them in 12 sessions together?
I have had the particular pleasure of working with a client recently who has been an inspiration in their pursuit of freeing themselves from panic disorder and social anxiety that has gripped them for most of their life. Around session 6, the client in question has made key behavioural changes outside of session without first discussing the changes within our sessions. So why am I pleased about this? The answer to that question is a simple one. As a psychotherapist I would never move into treatment with a client until we both have a clear understanding of what is maintaining the problem, as only then can the client have a clear understanding of how we are going to sort the problem out. Otherwise, it is a simple case of the blind leading the blind.
Therapy is not a process of being fixed by the therapist, it is a process of both parties fully understanding what maintains the depression or anxiety problem and making changes to break it down. When clients start designing their own changes, however far into the therapy process this may be, nothing fills me with a greater sense of pride for them. This change signifies that the client knows that they do not need endless therapy sessions to survive, no matter how long the problem has persisted.
Therapy is a gift that you give to yourself, nothing more, nothing less.