In the long run, yes. In the short run, not necessarily. Again it’s a very individual issue. Some people get a lot of support from the therapeutic relationship from the outset, and it connects them up to their own inner resources, and they start feeling better right away. Most get a lot of relief from talking about things unguardedly, from not having to hold back for a change. Others find the therapy situation embarrassing or belittling, and need to work past that in order to enjoy the working alliance. Virtually everyone who continues in therapy in spite of the difficulty begins to feel stronger, more competent, more worthwhile, and better protected. Is that “feeling better”? I think so.
We all have issues, past experiences, or traits that we’re ashamed of and hate to think about. Many of them are pretty trivial, but for ourselves they’re painful. Over the years we’ve wrapped them up in several layers of wrapping paper, and we avoid touching them because they weaken our self-esteem, which is the number one ingredient in feeling good. Those wrapped up, out-of-sight bits act make trouble for us. We constantly have to invest energy to keep them out of our minds. Which causes us to distort things that are happening in order to avoid becoming conscious of them.
And they’re sneakily undermining our self-esteem even so.So an important part of therapy is to bring these bits out into the light, understand better how they came about and how they are not our fault, and stop being ashamed of them. As we learn to be tolerant and understanding of ourselves, our self-esteem revives, so we have more creative energy and more positive energy in our relationships.
Actually, contrary to what people think, therapy isn’t primarily about meeting up with the ugly parts. I’ve seen far more people who are being messed up by their lack of appreciation for their good traits than their “bad” ones. Connecting solidly to your strengths and inner goodness is the core of psychotherapy. It’s called empowerment, and it’s what I aim for as a therapist.
You may very well. And if you feel confident that you’re moving in the right direction at an acceptable pace, don’t come...
First of all, I want to make it very clear that delving into the past does not always mean “finding the guilty party.” This attitude...