People have many different ideas concerning what to expect when they visit a psychologist for therapy. Many of these ideas come from what people see on television or in the movies, read on social media posts or is based on the experiences of others.
In my work I have come to define therapy in a specific manner:
Therapy is a means of nurturing people to live more safely and more wisely and more peacefully within the contexts of both their internal and external worlds.
In considering this definition consider some of the words within it:
Nurturing people is about the manner in which we care for people. It is about caring for and protecting someone as they ‘grow’. We think of nurturing most commonly in terms of a parent nurturing a child. Therapy is much about growth to give a person strength to move to a new place from where they are now. And so we need to nurture that process of growing. Nurturing is not always easy as growth can sometimes mean being prepared to be challenged and to feel a sense of being able to stand on one’s own feet without the need for the therapist to remain a presence in the life of the person.
To live more safety does not always feeling ‘safe’. Many people come to therapy feeling unsafe due to their circumstances or their internal struggles. Some just have a sense of feeling unsafe without being fully aware of why they feel that way. Learning to feel safe can involve challenge and courage. As a child when you learnt to ride a bike or learnt to swim you sometimes had to find the courage to overcome your fear before you could feel a confidence you developed in your skill over time. Therapy too may involve challenge and courage before there is real lasting safety that comes from inside you.
To live more wisely. Wisdomis a quality a person has where they have a sense of being able to use their experience, knowledge, and good judgement in such a way that it brings a peace and purpose to their daily lives. It is not just being smart’ but being able to use knowledge and experience in a way that truly matters. Therapy helps a person take the experience and knowledge around and in them and perhaps find new ways to use such rather than following old patterns that have led to distress.
To live more peacefully. Feeling greater control over uncertainty may return some peace to a person. That peace may come only after turmoil. It may come from inside you. Therapy may help you change the world around you. It may offer more internal peace or sometimes even internal peace when the external world around you still remains the same.
Both Inner and Outer Worlds. Therapy may seek to care for people by helping them within their internal worlds withIndividual approaches than can help change thoughts, feelings, meanings and beliefs. Through therapy a person may also find the strength to affect the world around them to assist their living within it or to make the world a better place for others