PSYCHOTHERAPIST & INTEGRATIVE LIFE COACH
Frequently asked questions
It is very important that you and your therapist make a good match. Yes, their qualifications and credentials matter too but more impactful on the outcomes of your sessions will be whether you feel you can talk to them openly about yourself. Everyone feels a bit shy, self-conscious and apprehensive at first. It’s normal when two strangers come together and attempt to build trust and connection, and explore the intimacy and vulnerability of relating. But you will know, in your gut, if you feel that this is someone who gets you, who creates a space of safety and nonjudgement and who encourages you to unfold at your pace as you are. The first session is usually a good time for both a client and therapist to feel if there is good communication and a mutual willingness to work together. If after three meeting you still have that same feeling of something is not right, end saying just that and move on. More on this here How to choose a psychotherapist | UKCP (psychotherapy.org.uk)
In the sessions I guide you through the process of listening-in to your experiencing moment-by-moment. You may have heard the term ‘mindfulness’. There is some similarity with mindfulness process as we pay attention to your breathing and felt-perceptions as we are exploring your situation.
Many people believe they cannot feel much in their bodies. We disconnect at an early age from our felt sensing and we learn to distrust what the body tells us. We learn to treat our bodies as things separate from us. We feel the body is failing us if it doesn’t perform and look the way we or others expect it should. So, it is not surprising that when invited to explore what we are experiencing through our bodily presence it freaks us out. We’d rather talk about things, change things in our physical world or wish others did things differently to make it better for us.
I’m here to tell you that if you want to make lasting change your body is not just a crucial element in your integration process. Developing your embodied felt-sense of you is the only way you can truly integrate and live life unrestricted by your past patterning.
In the sessions I teach you this process of attending to yourself from all perspectives – emotional, mental, physical. The inner-body feeling is our guide in exploring your life situation and your beliefs about yourself/others. Your being in the present allows you to make sense of yourself now and to update your beliefs, attitudes, and expectations. You then act in the world from a fresh and more creative perspective.
Therapy is an investment in yourself and it makes sense that you want to feel it is the money well spent. There are some things that will help you increase your pay offs.
At the beginning, it is useful to ask yourself what it is you want from therapy and discuss this with your therapist. If you are not clear about that it may become apparent when you explore it together in the sessions. The fact that you don’t know might be an indication that you struggle with making decisions in your life, with knowing what your needs are and how to attend to them. Sounds like a good goal to find this out in therapy.
The other thing that helps you make the most out of therapy is to decide to be brave and honest rather than telling half-truths out of fear of embarrassing yourself or thinking you might be judged. This takes me to the next one, share these fears out loud in the session and get a reality check and potentially an update on your limiting self-beliefs.
Keep a journal and reflect on the work in the session. Therapy is once a week, but therapy process is 24/7. Often the reflections, questions and realisations from the meeting spring into sudden ‘aha moments’ when you are taking a shower or driving a car. None of these good for notes taking but you get what I’m saying. 😉
It is worth keeping in mind that therapy doesn’t change people and therapists don’t fix anyone. It is impossible. The only person who can do the work of transformation is you. Yes, with the help and guidance of the therapist but it is your commitment to staying as close to your experience as possible. Therapy can feel like hard work sometimes. When you persevere through the tough moments you get to reap the rewards of becoming a little braver and more real to yourself each time.
This is one of the most frequent questions I hear from clients who come to therapy to overcome some challenging situation in life – depression, anxiety, breakup, loss of job or health. ‘When will I feel better?’
Well, that depends on a few things. Ask yourself what you want from therapy. Is it to get back to how you felt before the challenging situation? Is it to learn some tools to manage your anxiety? Is it to understand how you seem to be getting into the same troubling situations/relationships over and over again? Or maybe there is nothing specific to work on, but you have a feeling that there is more of you that wants to come out. You may call it low self-esteem or lack of confidence to get that job application in or to leave the unsatisfying relationship.
The amount of time you spend in therapy is deeply personal and depends on your individual needs, goals, and resources. Therapeutic process can last anytime between a few weeks and a few years. The latter usually applies to more severe conditions like long-lasting depression, anxiety, or dependency issues. The shorter time clients may already have well-developed self-care skills but may need some assistance with unravelling some repetitive pattern that keeps coming up despite all the good work they’re doing. Most of us look for the space when we can be heard and seen, often for the first time. For this, any time in therapy is beneficial.
I see therapy as a ground where you get to know yourself, experiment with new behaviours or expressions and connect with your own guidance. It is also a space to learn new relational and life skills. All in a context of a supportive relationship.
Every session is a good opportunity to take in the benefits and empower yourself with your newly acquired experiences. I often ask my clients towards the end of the sessions, ‘What are you taking with you today?’ I share generously my insights and observations with clients, but my true commitment is to teach you how to use your intuition, your felt sense, and your insight to give meaning and make decisions in your life. Remember the metaphor about someone giving you the fish or teaching you how to fish? Therapy is like getting the fish, learning the fishing skills, trying out some recipes and then, most importantly, enjoying the nourishing dish together. Sometimes people struggle to let themselves enjoy their efforts, to feel their bellies nourished. There may be beliefs, fears or patterns that get in the way of the taking in and letting yourself be satisfied. We hold many judgements of what progress means too. Is being able to hold your tears a progress or maybe letting them flow freely? I guess it is unique and personal and this needs to be explored in your session for you to take the full benefit of your therapy.
In general terms, you will know that therapy is working when you start applying the skills, attitudes and ‘recipes’ in your life between the sessions. You may notice a change in your state of mind. You may realize that you’re starting to change the way you speak to yourself or engage less in some negative behaviours. It might be that you start to navigate through your thoughts and feelings with more kindness which then enables you to give things a try and experiment with new behaviours or attitudes.
It is a good practice to monitor your sense of progress by checking in with yourself and your therapist. If you feel you are not gaining much from therapy, you should voice it in the session. Sometimes, it may be an indication that there is a lack of clarity or a mismatch between what you need, and your therapist can offer.
A common misconception about therapy is that your therapist can provide you with advice on how to proceed in whatever struggle you are experiencing. No one can really know ‘what you should do’ as they don’t share your story, your life experiences, your emotional reactions, or your needs. Therapy is a great space though to explore what you need from yourself and others if you decide one way or another. Often, we try to make decisions on purely intellectual level, weighing the pros and cons or asking everyone for their opinion. The longer you spend in this indecisive state, the more critical your thoughts turn toward yourself, towards others and to life itself. You are in limbo without a sense of direction hoping that someone else with expertise may help.
This ambivalent state, however, holds a lot of inner wisdom. Often it is a manifestation of two, or more, forces in you that feel equally strong but are pulling you in different directions. These forces might be conflicting needs within you, or your needs against the needs of others, or the fear of following your heart in favour of sticking with a well-paying job. It usually helps to acknowledge and give voices to the opposing sides. In therapy, I may invite you to start a dialogue between these parts of you. This may bring up a perspective you haven’t considered yet or a compromise that might appeal to you. By openly exploring each side you become aware of the previously hidden fears, motivations, and desires. My goal is to help you trust yourself while dealing with repercussions or others’ reactions to your decisions. This practice is meant to empower you with the cognitive, emotional, and practical skills to make great decisions without someone explicitly telling you what to do. And for someone to decide about your life would rob you from your sense of autonomy.
The short answer is you can’t make anyone change. The decision to change is deeply personal. We may assist others in their lives but ultimately the choice is in the hands of the other, not yours. For this reason, I will not accept referrals on behalf of a potential client. They need to contact me directly. Sometimes clients come as someone gave them an ultimatum or a good advice. Until the person decides for themselves, the work circles around resistance and resentment rather than personal benefits and growth.
But you may be concerned about someone in your life, or they may have expressed their pain or struggle to you. There are some ways to help people we care about.
Firstly, it might be worth acknowledging what you hear or perceive. This often works better than reassuring and telling them that all will be fine or even worse criticising what they’re doing. Most people will react defensively and hide in their shell even more. Rather than telling them your opinions, listen. To help, you need to understand their perspective and for that you need to listen, ask questions, and remain open. If on the other hand you feel afraid to say anything at all, please recognize that your loved one cannot begin to change until they know how you feel. Learning how to express your feelings without putting the blame on the other may be helpful.
It might benefit the situation if you ask yourself about the impact on you and how their not-changing is affecting you. Are you putting your life on hold? Is your health, well-being or safety directly affected by the other’s choices. This can be complex and worth exploring further. Maybe you need to find appropriate help for yourself. Often, we wait for the other to change and unconsciously keep ourselves stuck and quietly (or not) resentful. It is worth remembering that while you cannot control your loved one’s actions, you can control your own. By taking care of yourself you start modelling the behaviours, attitudes, and life outlook you hope your loved one will choose. You learn to take care of yourself, set heathy boundaries and get on with your growth.