Therapy, More than just talking

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, but I’ve felt cautious, I’ve been scared of what people might say, maybe it’s too open, shows too much vulnerability, maybe people won’t understand me. Yet I know this is an important part in speaking about my experience and my truth.

Before I share my thoughts as a Psychotherapist I want to make it clear this isn’t a post about saying one practitioner or modality is better than the other. The truth is every person is unique and what or who feels supportive for you to help you through your challenges is your own personal choice, there is no one way to growth, healing or transformation. 

I also have so much love for kinesiology, intuitive readings, energy clearing, spiritual guidance and all the other beautiful modalities I have had the delight of experiencing. 

This is a post about my experience of what I do and what I see in my work and that for me therapy is much more than talking.  This is a post for any practitioner whose may have felt misunderstood or that their work was any less valuable than another’s.

I often read comments or hear people say that “Talk Therapy” doesn’t work and that therapists aren’t effective because they don’t address or can’t get to what happens at an unconscious level.

As a therapist, it’s difficult to hear psychotherapy and counselling described as “talk therapy”. There are so many amazing practitioners and modalities out there and it isn’t just through talking that they are facilitating deep healing and transformation for their clients.

When people say therapists cant access the unconscious I want you to know that working with the unconscious and making it conscious makes up so much of what I and many other clinicians do. We want to help you access your unconscious, have a felt experience of doing so and teach you how to do that ongoing.

When people say talking isn’t effective…If this has been your experience I can respect that. Perhaps counselling or therapy isn’t for you – that’s totally cool! I’ve had to find the right practitioners for me too, the most transformational learnings I’ve experienced have been with some amazing therapists.

When people say that talking about their challenges or sharing things doesn’t do anything so why bother…I often come back to why people really don’t open up…

Maybe, it’s because we're scared of real intimacy. Were scared of relationship, of allowing another person in to really see us.  

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We're scared about what our friends will think if they know… we feel like we should have it all together ( whatever that means) and feel ashamed that we don’t… we think “I can handle this on my own”

So we play it safe and we read books, we take a view that we can sort it out on our own, we like treatments that don’t involve the other person really knowing us, and we spend almost no time on our mental health but spend hours a week in the gym or focusing on our bodies… 

Anyone else see this too?

We dismiss that relationship, support and care in a therapeutic relationship can make a difference.

And my heart breaks when people minimise dialogue and what therapists do by saying talk therapy doesn’t work because to dialogue is human and opens a path to relationship and connection….

Connection is what happens when we have developed the ability to relate to one another. When we can be being fully seen, heard and met in the present moment. 

For many of us, those moments of deep connection happen for split seconds in our life, maybe minutes if we’re lucky... 

Like the  feeling of all-encompassing love that sweeps over you when you look into the eyes of a loved one

The indescribable  moment when you're touched by the beauty of a sunset

The moment in time you allow a song to pierce your heart and you FEEL the music

Those moments when you stand in front of another person real, raw, bare, and they accept you anyway.

It’s in these moments that something magical happens between humans, it’s called connection, and when this happens healing is possible.

I know this because the biggest predictors of positive outcomes in clinical cases from the evidence-based research is the therapeutic alliance, AKA the relationship between the therapist and the client.

This is because regardless of modality, we know that it’s the relationship that significantly contributes to a person’s positive outcomes, healing and growth. It’s the relationship that heals.

To add to that the research tells us the biggest predictor of our happiness is actually the quality of our relationships. 

So given that all of our challenges in life are relational, whether that’s around the relationships you have with others or the relationship with yourself or a lack of relationship…understanding yourself and others in relationships is one of the ultimate keys to happiness! So doing the work to understand yourself and learning how to dialogue and to connect is crucial to our happiness.

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So yes, I’m a therapist and I use my words, but it’s not just talking, it’s about connection, it’s about relationship

I sit with people I witness them, I am there with them in their moments of greatest triumph, terrifying fear, heartbreak and challenge.

I gently and with compassion shine a light on the unconscious.

I bring myself as a person into my work, I don’t hold back my honesty, truth or vulnerability, I crack my own heart open and work through the challenges with the person in front of me, I’m an active participant in the journey, Just like I am now, if your reading this post, perhaps it’s one you don’t resonate with.. are you willing to hang in there with me to be open to the possibility of connection even when there’s difference?.

I give my clients the gift of dialogue, and while I’m on this rant I want you to know that’s actually once of greatest gift we can all give to each other – to be with someone, to  stay, to hang in there with each other when we're lost, confused, angry, hurt. 

The gift is staying with each other and being open to the relationship even if we disagree, we can find our way back to connection.  It’s on this journey with my clients that together we make the unconscious – conscious.

For me therapy goes beyond talking, It goes beyond the diagnosis or the labels, it’s about the person. we work with what we see, what we feel, what the energy is and most importantly we work with the human being sitting in front us. 

We work to hold our preconceptions, we work to see with the heart, the secrets, the longing the words unspoken. 

We work with the spirit, the energy, the universe or whatever you name it and what this means for you. We do so much more than talk.

What often looks like talking is years of expertise, skill knowledge, knowing when to interject, knowing when not to, gathering the threads from your life, story and experience, making the subtle observations of how you speak, hold your body, move, asking the right questions.

Through our dialogue and experience with the other person, we teach people not only WHAT they do but HOW and WHY they do it. 

We help people understand HOW to make the unconscious conscious… so they have their own tools to live a life of awareness ( AKA making the unconscious conscious) that’s creative, spontaneous and joyful.

And lastly, for me, I teach people that they are the ripple in the world and that because they have had the courage to learn about themselves and learnt to truly connect and be in relationships they can teach others to do so.

And this is how I believe we will change the world 

If you’ve read this to the end, thank you for reading and allowing me to share my experience, my truth and what I do.

Natajsa Wagner