In the Therapy Room [with Susie Orbach]


In the Therapy Room [with Susie Orbach]

– a therapist introduces a number of de-identified clients/dramatisations (based on a BBC program in the UK)
– Worldwide, there is an increase in the number of people seeing a therapist
– therapy looks at “what trips people up” – what gets in the way
– it examines a person’s behaviours & feelings so they can be the person they imagine themselves to be
– It also helps a person make peace with feelings and beliefs of being unworthy or helpless, or being scared/fearful all the time &/or needing to be in control
– we all have hesitations in our lives, but when they become disabling, therapy can prove useful to understand where they came from & how to change them
– the Therapy room is an intimate place
– All back believes that people – generally speaking – do not like having feelings (in particular, feelings of helplessness, vulnerability, & hopelessness)
– In today’s culture there is an expectation – she believes – that everything has to be great/ awesome or absolutely terrible – this is in contrast to the range of feelings we may have at any given time or in any given situation – & which are more complex & subtle
– she believes feelings need space as they go through you – that they need space to breathe
– resistance is counter-productive – particularly when a person gets angry when feeling hopeless, helpless or vulnerable & this explains why feelings of anger keep coming back because the underlying feelings have never been experienced
– therapy is often about accepting the complexity of life – that things are not necessarily black & white, right or wrong – but complex & nuanced – that life indeed has many layers
– she also talks about the culture & the fear people have of “not being good enough”, of the need to be independent (she says none of us are – we are all connected), of being an imposter, competence, fear of success, body image,
– despite the technocratic, managerial age we live in – Orbach believes psychotherapy is more sought after by people now because the person craves real interaction, real conversation, & real understanding – she describes “hunger” for face to face communication not well-served by technology
– the human mind/brain emerges in the context of human society & take a long time to develop [brain architecture is constructed within human relationships]

therapist techniques demonstrated:
– listening/acknowledging – bring an open-mind/heart & curiosity about person without being judgmental
– demonstrating skills (for e.g. Assertiveness)
– patterns of relationships (for e.g. No conceptions of what it is like to be a man/father)
– how family history has impacts (& can repeat) – I.e. we are formed by the people we grow up with (& parents – at least initially – are also physically very big)
– we form ideas about who we can be because of our relationship with them
– the role of fear (fight & flight)
– the therapist tries to get into a person’s shoes while holding distance to be of assistance
– therapists reveal to the client how they come across to them, & the way they come across in relationships?

Psychological concept canvassed in the podcast:
1) Projection: from a place of vulnerability, a person projects their own ideas upon somebody else – (& often things we do not like about ourselves) rather than reacting to what the person wants [it assumes & therefore distorts a situation to fit a pre-conceived idea]
2) transference – Based on our upbringing, we bring our relationship style that we grew up with to the next people we have relationships with (outside the home).
– For example: if you had a punitive father, you might transfer that idea to an intimate relationship you subsequently have (with a person you love) – you can find yourself transferring onto a partner/child down the track even though you did not mean to (& where it is not appropriate)
– also, in therapy, the person may see the therapist as disapproving (even though they are not) – transferring preconceptions of their punitive father onto the therapist
– a person’s history therefore is vital in understanding how a person’s internal world has been structured with respect to how they view other people they come across
3) Countertransference: How the therapist reacts to someone [what is it about the person that I, the therapist, am feeling? Is it to do with the person or is it to do with me the therapist?
– Is the person scared of contact, and therefore that explain why the person pushes the therapist away?
4) Defences – Protections against feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and vulnerability & sometimes these defences make a person feel bad about themselves – that there is something wrong with them
5) empathic identification: where the therapist takes on a small amount of the client’s pain – it aids understanding the favour of the pain/emotion

Source: ABC RN All in the Mind | 30 April 2017


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