How Therapy Works
Why don’t some therapists say all that much?
Why don’t some therapists say anything about themselves?
Why may the client be asked by the therapist to try and answer their own questions, especially when the question is about the therapist?
What’s with the couch?
Why doesn’t the therapist advise on what the client should actually do?
Why does therapy take so long?
Why do some people go to therapy sessions several times per week? Are they really crazy?
Why does my therapist focus so much on my childhood?
This post will be the first in a series intending to reveal some of the elements of a psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy to educate and inform a person who is thinking about beginning this form of treatment. I hope to provide a basic understanding of how the therapy intends to help the client achieve his or her goals when that may not be very obvious to the client at the start. This includes some disclosures on why therapists who practice psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy do what they do in an effort to demystify some of the basic components of this therapy.
In attempting to provide answers to these questions and others, I will be focusing on what happens in a psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy and not necessarily to other types of therapeutic interventions (although some other therapies have similar underpinnings). Since the phrase, ‘psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy’ is a bit cumbersome, I will assume that this is clear to the reader moving forward and will simply refer to it as ‘therapy’ or ‘psychotherapy’ for the sake of brevity.
One of the basic goals of therapy is to help a person learn more about their own internal emotional world, portions of which may be unknown to the person at any particular point in time. One of the most frequently observed reasons a person seeks therapy is because they do not understand why they do the things that they do, why they think the way that they think, or why they feel the way that they feel. The person has a sense that if they only knew the answers to these questions, they may be better able to live their lives in a more fulfilling way with less pain and suffering.
The answer to the first question above, “why don’t some therapists say all that much” comes from a long tradition of theorizing that if you want to help a person learn as much about themselves as possible, the less the therapist says, the more the client will say. When the client does most of the talking, the client has a greater opportunity to learn about those very parts of him or herself that may be ‘hiding’. If one important goal of the therapy is increased self awareness for the client, then the time spent together in the session is best utilized when both the client and the therapist are working together to see, to know, and to understand, what is going on inside the client and the most effective way to do this is for the client to speak so that both the client and therapist can listen, learn, and understand.