Saturday, 26 January 2013

Therapy. And then what...?

It was a brilliant question.  So brilliant in fact that I can't think why it hasn't occurred to me before.  When contracting with a client, particularly one who has not previously been 'in treatment', I might do well to offer a little health warning.  Therapy can bring stuff up.  Good therapy will bring stuff up.  What comes up is not always comfortable.  Sticking with the process is key.  Here are a few suggestions in relation to self-care between sessions.

I guess there is something in here about taking time, to digest what may at first feel somewhat indigestible.  Just as one might take time to relax after a rich meal, the products of a lively, challenging or emotional appointment, deserve some space - to facilitate a settling process.
We might think of a very abrupt transition back into the world beyond the therapeutic space as something similar to the symptoms of indigestion, or acid reflux - an uncomfortable and perceptible sign that something feels rushed, or too condensed.

Obviously, there are times where it is necessary to move straight into the next activity but it might be worth giving some further thought and consideration to the scheduling of commitments immediately after therapy appointments and, where possible, factoring in some 'down time' to shift gears, emotionally and psychologically.

It needn't be a whole lot of time, and how it is spent may maximise its effectiveness.  Some people find de-briefing helpful.  This might take the form of a conversation with a partner or close friend over a coffee - or perhaps a more personal space to inwardly reflect on ideas, themes and feelings that emerged during the session you have just left.  

Jotting things down, almost as though documenting a stream of consciousness, can be very helpful - serving a dual purpose, of processing what may be raw, unfamiliar or unexpected thoughts and feelings whilst also documenting significant content from the recent session, whilst it is still fresh in your mind, heart and soul.  

Putting words to feelings in this way can be enormously comforting, and might also enhance subsequent relational communication both inside and outside of the therapy room.  

If time is of the essence, as it so often is, then sitting quietly, somewhere you won't be disturbed, and taking a few mindful breaths, to gather your experience and reacquaint with the moment, can prove refreshing and rejuvenating, creating a valuable space in which to pick up some psychological and emotional armour that may need to be replaced after a therapy session, in order to return to life on life's terms.  

"The principle aim of therapy is not to transport one to an impossible state of happiness, 
but to help (the client) acquire steadfastness and patience in the face of suffering."   
C. G. Jung


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