The other day a client was talking to me about what he said to a friend in response to questions about why he is in therapy. Apparently his friend was expressing a suspicious or disapproving tone. The friend had indicated that he would never go to a therapist; that he takes care of his own problems. A view that is not that uncommonly held. My client told me that he told his friend that he came to therapy because it helps to talk. And that really touched me.
The essence of psychotherapy is talking. And the experience that I have with my clients and that they have with me is so precisely summarized by what my client told his friend: talking helps. Now of course it is not just any talking. This is talking that the client and therapist do together, in a safe environment, freed from fears of judgment. And hopefully where the therapist is doing his job of listening carefully and thoughtfully.
As my client said talking helps. I don’t know if scientific research will prove that or not. But I know it from my experience. It helps the client to get feelings out and not bottled up inside. It helps to get clearer about oneself and one’s behavior and patterns. And it helps to not have so much of an alone, alienated feeling. When talking to someone and feeling understood and cared about, therapy helps with the various trials and challenges of life. Talking, the essence of psychotherapy, helps. I liked very much how my client said that: it was a simple, clear statement about what I experience everyday with my clients.