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The importance of the therapeutic space

Friday 5th November 2021

The one question that is significant for many of us is how to feel more like ourselves again and able to cope after perhaps a period of prolonged stress and anxiety, a personal loss or an ongoing health issue. 

We always see advertisements and posts on social media which say something along the lines of:

'Be who you truly are!'

'Live your best life!'

'Find your authentic self!'

And my personal favourite - 

'Transform your life in just 3 days!' (or some other insurmountable quick time - 30 minutes maybe!)

I feel tired just reading these. This puts me off and actually makes me feel like not doing anything as it sounds too intense. The last thing we want to feel when we go to a therapist is that we are somehow defective and 'not good enough.' 

What does this stuff actually mean? 

Quite frankly, it is open to interpretation - and massively so. 

How many of us know who we truly are, let alone how to find out?

(Show of hands.... ✋)

I for one don't even know what to look for. Should I even be looking for something in fact? This is a vast topic and it sounds like a tall order doesn't it? Almost like a formula we need to follow exactly or we won't be completely fulfilled. 

The truth is - most people are just simply trying to solve the problem that is directly front of them.

I know that's how it feels for me. I also know that I don't need someone to help me achieve 'miraculous results.' I just want someone to hear me and create a space for that purpose. One of the most valuable things we can do as therapists is to simply hold space for someone to feel what is there without judgement. Who we truly are is correlated to our personal growth. It isn't something static but something that is always in a state of flux and what we are feeling can be complex. We can honour that process without judging our clients and having expectations about what is being brought to the table.  

Who you are this year may not be who you are next year! Our life experiences have the capacity to change us on many levels and the perception of who we are. This is an ongoing process and when we consciously engage with this process, we are in fact more able to turn our problems in life into challenges that help us grow in the ways we need to.

Life happens usually when you are busy making other plans. When people are feeling overwhelmed, from my experience, what they need most is space. They want the space to be heard and felt. Somewhere that is safe, without judgement and prejudice. That is what we can offer ourselves and other people. When we give someone the gift of our presence, that is sacred in itself. Healing begins to take place when we simply allow ourselves to be as we are and then others feel free to be as they are. 

That is where the true miracle begins.

©️ Christina McDonald 2021