Therapy is an opportunity to have new experiences that can change the way you feel in, and move through, the world.  It is a place to learn new skills to better cope in the present and to gain insight into the ways that past events may be causing you to live in ways that feel untrue to yourself. Specific coping strategies or ways of protecting one’s self may have been brilliant, life-affirming strategies given the situation and stage of life at which they were  developed. However, when  held onto for too long, these same strategies can become life-limiting and interfere with relationships and life experiences. We often become very skilled at “living in our heads”, thereby missing out on the full richness of life. As human beings, we are hardwired to experience a wide array of emotions. While avoiding intense feelings, such as anger, fear, sadness or even happiness,  is  understandable, it inevitably  leads  us  to anxiety and a sense of being lost. It is like  traveling without

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

a map or compass. In other words, we actually need to experience and tolerate strong emotions to live well.  Therapy can help to grow this capacity so that feelings are not experienced as overwhelming. When we no longer need to avoid strong feelings unhealthy, compensatory behaviours (such as excessive self criticism, addictive behaviours, emotional withdrawal, underachieving etc.) diminish.  Intellectual awareness alone is typically not enough: we need to tap into the rich sources of  our emotional, and frequently unconscious, minds to make long lasting emotional and behavioural changes. Therapy is a means of reconnecting with that part of one’s self  that  yearns to heal  and  grow.  It is an opportunity to explore and deepen one’s self-knowledge and compassion. A deeper understanding of one's self  can  transform relationships with one's partner, children,friends and, most importantly, with one’s self. It is when we are in touch with our deepest feelings that we gain knowledge of how we are to live our lives. Research repeatedly  indicates that the therapeutic alliance  (i.e.  the  relationship between client and therapist) is more important in determining  out come than is the particular approach or technique used. A safe, respectful and compassionate therapeutic relationship enables the exploration and transformation of painful life experiences. It facilitates new understanding and the learning of skills to cope with current problems. A warm, collaborative relationship wherein both therapist and patient contribute their unique expertise and perspective is the foundation for successful therapy.

Thoughts on Therapy...

--Mary Ann Radmacher