How does it work?

Most people are resistant to therapy, they resist it as if it were an admission of an extreme mental health problem to contemplate entering therapy. The counselling or psychotherapy student is surprised to find that in addition to their studies, they are expected to keep a journal and to undertaken a set number of therapy hours before qualifying, This in a society where we think little of spending thousands on our homes and cars, but begrudge every penny that maintains our health. Having worked so long in Mental Health I;m very aware that Britain’s National health Service is misnamed, Its actually a National Illness Service, and leads us into this expectation that health is taken for granted until it is lost. A real National Health Service would be more proactive, promoting healthy attitudes, rather than chasing unhealthy ones & policing behaviour.

I’m often careful with new clients to not mention the idea of “analysis” too early, as it has become a taboo word, yet analysis is the starting point in order to formulate strategy,  When meeting a client for the first time, I take a few pieces of information. Name, address, date of birth, contact numbers, Doctor’s details & a list of medications is my starting point. Then, after explaining about ground rules & confidentiality, I quite casually I ask what has brought them to see me. The Client;s own words are very valuable, not just for the information bestowed, but I take note of body language, eye movement, level of comfort, and begin to make a mental map. It may not appear so, but I am studying not just the obvious stated information, but looking at relationships, support mechanisms, motivations, areas of comfort & discomfort, and objectives. I am creating a diagram in my head of the person, where they want to be, and the obstacles to getting them there. There are flags popping up in my head that guilde me to the significant questions that I ask as I map the client;s life, while relaxing them. Frequently they are surprised to discover that within that first hour, they have told me things that they have never revealed to any other person. I am careful to give reassurances that their confidences will be kept. I had a conversation recently with someone I will call Madame X who does not live close enough to be a client,

Madame X:: I almost lost the plot, but have managed to pull myself together, I must build a life for myself while i am in this transition.. May I ask you a few questions? Like; what is a healthy balance in therapy & living your life? I cant seem to get the balance right. Also, is it true that the only way to healing is to blend all the “others” inside my head??

Gina : Sounds like you’ve been close to panic a few times. If you feel panicky, please drop your shoulders to make them loose & take several deep breaths. There is a technique called TFT that may help too. It means tapping. If you are right handed, tap with your right index finger on the following pressure points – several fairly quick taps in each place. First, just above the left eyebrow – not too hard, just enough to feel. Then on the left cheek below the eye, then the shoulderblade, and then on your left hand between the thumb and forefinger & slightly towards the back of the hand. Then start the whole thing over again as often as you need. This switches your thinking from emotional to logical, so you let go of obsessive thinking and emotional upset – I also use it for physical pain.

Therapy is a tool to help you feel healthy, primarily it is best used to keep a healthy person healthy, but it can also address other conditions. By its nature, therapy can bring up unpleasant things from the past & revisit times that were not so pleasant, this should be done a little at a time to help healing. I often think that therapy should resemble a pleasant chat over a cup of tea, except that the therapist is working – often without you noticing, but there are times when it is less pleasant, and its important that you feel a trust of the therapist for this to work successfully. It is necessary to take some of the work home to “process”, and that can be uncomfortable, but you should feel supported & not have too much disruption to life at any one time from the therapy. Most therapeutic change is in what we call process – the slow development of realisation & control in order to address your issues successfully, the rest can be in enlightened moments of realisation where you make discoveries in therapy that allow you to embrace sudden change. Generally, if you feel that therapeutic change is out of your control & creating too much discomfort, bring it to the attention of the therapist to review & adjust their speed and your support accordingly.

If by “others” in your head you mean voices, then some understanding is required. Most people hear more than one inner voice, and though conscience may create conflict, there is normally no real conflict in voices in healthy individuals. The primary work on personality fragmentation is Laing who is clear when he says that many inner voices is only unhealthy in individuals in cases where the voices are unaware of each other. Most people are quite faceted in having parts to their personality which express inconsistent things, that is a very human quality.

I hope that helps, but please do get back to me if you need more help or anything is unclear

Madame X:: Thanks Gina, that has been helpful. Just wanted to say, but am guessing you know, I have never had psychosis, that can be ruled out.
On my way out now & my son needs the computer at 6.00, it is now 5.44 so have to hurry, thanks for explaining to me how therapy works, looks like I am on track, even if they are as dumb as horse !@#$
Have a nice evening

Indeed, our primary use of therapy has become reparative by nature, but it was intended as a means of continued good health. I pride myself on my success rate, the many people I have helped, and those I am still helping. They know my secret – I only navigate, the client is the one who does the hard work.


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One response to “How does it work?

  1. Jill

    Good work Gina!!!!!!! Believe it or not, in my work as a TAX consultant, I often get people doing exactly what you describe, revealing personal things they haven’t told anyone. I am sure it is because I treat them as people rather than “$ figures”. I take pride in the fact tat they can treat me as a confidant, and hope that by letting out a problem/worry/joy in their lives, I have helped them in some way. I truly believe that my life as a “bank manager’s wife” trained me to make quick, and usually accurate, assessments of people and their needs. Body language has always fascinated me, and I am always very aware of my own. Last year while in a meeting with my boss, I felt myself crossing my arms and legs. I stopped myself and said out loud, “I didn’t mean that!”. Poor man didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but my 2IC who was also there, caught on immediatly.

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