Is your relationship more difficult than enjoyable? Sometimes we can’t make sense of our relationships; even our own insides. Relationships are so central to happiness that relationship stress can impact everything else in life. Negative thoughts and unhelpful self-talk can bully us into a corner. We all need a little help sometimes in getting a fresh perspective, and it’s never been more accepted or ‘’normal’ to seek the help of a professional in dealing with these kinds of situations.
The decision about who to trust with your relationship struggles and your inner world is an important one because when you’re under stress and turning up open-hearted and vulnerable, laying your stuff on the line to a stranger, the therapist or counsellor has a great deal of power. There are many different kinds of therapists, from GPs who have trained to provide counselling to patients, to psychologists and psychiatrists offering counselling and psychotherapy. Psychotherapists and counsellors can come from various backgrounds and it’s important to know the basic credentials of a professional before you trust them with your inner world, because while some can offer life-changing support, others can do harm. If possible, get a recommendation from your GP or another trusted source, then let your intuition guide you.
Even more important than their qualifications and experience is how you feel working with the therapist. It’s vital they understand what you want to work on and whether you feel they are meeting you where you are as a person – encouraging in you a greater sense of authority in your own world.
Although some therapies have been widely studied and amassed great evidence for their effectiveness and others have a lesser scientific evidence base, no therapy has conclusively been proven to be the best because different styles and approaches will naturally work more effectively for different individuals, cultures and conditions. The universal factor in good therapy, the element that is most likely to lead to positive change is a positive relationship with your therapist that models acceptance, benevolence and mindfulness.
To assess your therapy, ask yourself – Am I feeling clearer, more in charge of my own self and my world? Are the goals I had in attending therapy getting closer? Does therapy help me to feel how I want to feel more of the time? Are my relationships getting easier? Most importantly: Do I feel more accepting, confident and compassionate towards myself because of my therapist’s attitude to me and the positive reflection of myself I see in their eyes?
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