Why do we come and sit in a room, and talk to a stranger, and share our deepest thoughts and feelings?
My therapy room is at the end of a long narrow corridor. In the winter the corridor is light by bulbs hanging in Victorian glass lampshades. In the summer, light from the open doors of other rooms pools in.
In my room there’s a two seater sofa, and a bucket chair. The sofa is blue and white, and most of my clients sit here, but not all of them. Whenever I’m seeing a client, I light the fat church candle that sits in the closed off fireplace.
There is a stone Buddha, sitting on a small table between the sofa and the chair. It’s a peaceful room.
Someone arriving for a first session can be full of all sorts of feelings: anxiety about meeting someone new, a longing for things to be different, perhaps some nerves about starting to talk about how things are at the moment.
It’s a brave act, coming to see a therapist, and when I see clients for the first time, I remember this, and how it was for me to be a client, back when I was in therapy myself.
I listen, without making any value judgements. The act of being heard is a powerful one.
People come because they want to change. Change is possible, but often happens in surprising ways.
Sometimes we might set goals together, and come up with realistic steps to take us nearer to those goals, and sometimes the process of change happens through more subtle means.
My job as therapist is to be a steady presence, to be sympathetic to the troubles of the client, but not so caught up in them that I lose my own sense of balance.
As people we are influenced by the people that we hang out with, and the places that we go. We can see this all around us, as people dress to fit in with one group, or change their behaviour to fit in with another. This is a mostly sub-conscious process.
Being in relationship to my steady presence, just coming and hanging out in the peaceful space of the therapy room, is just as important, perhaps more so, than what gets talked about in the sessions.
This is how the process of change happens: by dipping ourselves into good conditions, into the therapy room, over and over again. Slowly we began to relax, and our old habits and ways of thinking become less powerful. We move towards acceptance, letting go, and change.
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