Changing the patterns we live by
A common reason for coming to counselling or therapy is feeling angry, fearful, sad or guilty. Maybe this feeling has arisen after a change in our circumstances or has been building up over time until it stops us from being or from doing, or it may have been unexpectedly triggered by an event or a person. Often the problem we come with has its roots deeper in our lives and may not be The Problem but a symptom of something else.
Because we come with problems that carry strong emotions for us it is not always easy to talk about what’s really bothering us and perhaps sometimes we don’t even know that ourselves. The role of the therapist is to create a safe space where such feelings can be explored. The role of client is to be prepared to do just that - find, confront and work with the things that are causing pain and distress.
What does “safe enough” mean? It means building a non-judgemental relationship between client and therapist, a relationship of empathy and confidentiality, where boundaries are respected. In this safe space difficult questions can be asked and answered and emotions can be allowed to surface and be expressed. So, the relationship between client and therapist is perhaps the most important aspect of therapy.
In therapy your therapist works with you to help you discover your patterns of thoughts and behaviours and what you really, deep-down believe about yourself and who you are. When we become consciously aware of our patterns then we have a choice about if and how we change them. He or she will ask about your family and your experience of growing up in your family and help you to notice what you notice about the patterns of behaviours, thoughts and beliefs that your family has. He or she will ask about your own experience of life and help you to notice where patterns are the same or different from family patterns. Your therapist will help you be curious about these patterns and help you to notice which ones are helpful and which are less so.
Bringing our patterns and strategies, our unwanted thoughts and behaviours into our conscious awareness gives us the chance to look again at what we believe, how we feel we should behave and how we think. When we know what they are we can decide how well they serve us. If they serve us poorly then we can challenge them, make changes, develop new strategies and ways of thinking. It is the role of your therapist to help you do that. We learn that we have choices when, maybe, we thought we had none. We learn that there is Hope and we can, indeed, make changes.
Patty Everitt is a therapist at The Hope Street Centre and can be contacted on 07768 869 551.