Image: The School of Life
Psychotherapy helps clients build better relationships with themselves, others and the world.
As a way to demonstrate this, I’ve put together a really lovely collection of The School of Life animations, which beautifully describe some of the numerous ways psychotherapy promotes a greater connection to self, other and the world.
How Psychotherapy Works
This first animation explains psychotherapy as having three main reasons for its effectiveness in allowing us to know ourselves better.
Firstly, psychotherapy helps our unconscious feelings become conscious.
“…ideas and feelings bubble up from the unconscious and are healed through exposure, interpretation and contextualisation….ghosts from the past are seen in daylight and are laid to rest.”
Secondly, psychotherapy allows for and explores transference. With a good therapist, you are able to play out past, hurtful relationships in a safe environment.
“Psychotherapy is a controlled experiment, which can teach us to observe what we’re up to and where our impulses come from and then adjust our behaviour in less unfortunate directions.”
Thirdly, for many people, psychotherapy provides their first good relationship. In therapy, we “get to experience someone who is reliable, listens to us, sets the right amount of boundaries and helps us feel legitimate and worthy.”
This therapeutic relationship can become the model for relationships outside of therapy.
Knowing Ourselves Intellectually vs Knowing Ourselves Emotionally
Many of us may know ourselves intellectually. However, “an intellectual understanding of our past, although not wrong, wont by itself be effective at being able to release us [from our pain].”
For this, we need an emotional understanding of the past, as opposed to a “top-down, abbreviated, intellectual one.” This may require visiting past, painful memories emotionally, in the presence of a caring other, such as a therapist.
The True And The False Self
“A surprising, but powerful explanation for why we may, as adults, be in trouble mentally, is that we were, in our earliest years, denied the opportunity to be fully ourselves.”
In the 1960’s, Psychoanalysist and Child Psychiatrist Donald Winnicott, wrote about the true and false self. He stated that healthy development requires us, as children, to experience “a period where we don’t have to bother about the feelings and opinions of those who were tasked with looking after us. We could be wholly and without guilt, our true selves.”
If we were fortunate enough to experience such acceptance in our early years, it becomes far easier to allow ourselves to be who we are as adults.
If, on the other hand, our experience was of having to put our own needs aside to please our carers, we may also find ourselves forfeiting our needs in our adult relationships.
“If we’ve never been allowed [to be our true self], our sickness and depression is there to remind us that we need to take a step back. Therapy is there to allow us to do so.”
How To Know Yourself
Many of us don’t quite know who we are.
“We don’t have a stable sense of what we’re worth” and “we don’t have a secure hold on our own values or judgements.”
This animation postulates that without really knowing who we are, we don’t cope very well with either criticism or praise.
“We learn to have an identity because, if we’re blessed, in our early years, someone else takes the trouble to study us with immense fairness, attention and kindness, and then plays us, back to us, in a way that makes sense and that we can later emulate.”
“Knowing who one is, is really the legacy of having been known properly by someone else at the start.”
If we did not have such a salubrious start to life, we may wish to find a good psychotherapist. “Someone who can study us closely, mirror us properly and then validate what they see.”
Through this process, we may then learn to trust ourselves more and know ourselves better.
Make An Appointment To See Toni Jackson For Psychotherapy
If you would like to work through your anxiety, depression, self-worth, body image, sense of self or trauma, please contact Toni Jackson for enquiries and appointments via the contact form below.
For a free 15 minute phone consultation, to discuss your situation and see how Toni can support you, please phone 0439 995 302 (Australia only).
Toni Jackson is a Psychotherapist specialising in trauma, anxiety and body image. She is a Gestalt Therapist, body-centred psychotherapist, creative therapist and HAES practitioner. Toni works in Fremantle and Mundaring, Perth, Western Australia, and also provides online counselling.