We have so many healing modalities to choose from. Depressed? You can try diet, exercise, vitamins, acupuncture. Anxious? Have you tried meditation, aromatherapy, affirmations, color therapy? All these modalities help some people some of the time. So why psychotherapy? In psychotherapy healing occurs through the connection that is established and maintained in the relationship between the therapist and client.
Think about depression, anxiety, and other problems people have. Our problems don’t arise out of a void, rather they arise within the context of our relationships with others. We may regret what we said or did yesterday or worry about something on our calendar for tomorrow. And while many healing modalities are very useful at helping us manage our day to day affect, psychotherapy offers an incredible gift: the opportunity to know yourself. Really knowing yourself involves affirming that which you already know and finding out things about yourself that you don’t know. When this knowing occurs in the context of a healing relationship, transformation happens!
Some may ask, “Can’t I know myself by myself? I pray and meditate. I think I know myself pretty well.” On the one hand, you can know a lot about yourself. The value of psychotherapy is evident in that we all have blind spots about ourselves. Working with a skilled professional allows us to not only see through our blind spots but also allows us to learn to accept the parts of ourselves that we don’t like very much. We discover that we don’t have to be alone with our shame, embarrassment, anger or fear. We discover that we can share joy, gratitude, and love with an affirming other.
Recently as I tacked my business card to a bulletin board at a local organic market a our young woman asked me what I do. “I’m a psychotherapist,” I replied. “Ooooo, that sounds scary,” the young woman said. She thought a moment and then asked, “But what do you really do?” “Well, I help people learn to like the parts of themselves that they don’t like very much,” I answered. “Oh,” she said with relief, “we could all use more of that.” Yes, I thought, we could all use more of that. Knowing and liking yourself more through connection with another person. That’s the why of psychotherapy.