The therapeutic relationship between a psychotherapist and a client is regarded as the most essential factor that determines positive therapeutic outcomes, even ranking more importantly than specific modalities or academic training. In my practice, I take care to creating a safe and supportive environment wherein clients feel truly seen and heard as their experiences and emotions are validated and explored. My approach recognises that many of us have missed out on authentic connection and emotional attunement in our lives, and that a positive therapeutic relationship can become a powerful tool for healing and growth.
My academic training in the psychodynamic tradition sits happily alongside my interest in Jungian concepts. At the heart of each is the goal of self-awareness and an exploration of how our unconscious mind might be influencing our emotions. Psychodynamic therapy stems from the idea that our past experiences and early relationships shape our unconscious beliefs and patterns of behaviour and that these patterns often continue to effect us in the present moment and beyond, for better and/or for worse.
Given our primary family is the template which informs our understanding about life and love and relationships, in my work with clients we usually devote a session or two to mapping out the family of origin.
“Romantic relationships tend to bring up a lot, because they’re the closest in terms of intensity and dependence to early childhood experiences. The whole system gets kind of reactivated as you rework certain things that were frozen in time. For a shut-down, traumatized person, that can be pretty scary. So I try to convince people to let go of their fear.” Orna Guralnik.
As an advocate of the adage ‘In order to move forward we need to know what it is we’re moving on from,’ it makes sense to me that our family of origin is the springboard from which all else is created. Hence the therapeutic process will often involve teasing out the tangled webs and unhelpful patterns so that a more enduring narrative becomes the new default. And that’s exciting.
Drawing on my life experience and interests, I hold the therapeutic space with empathy, compassion, presence, and non-judgement while encouraging clients to lean into the fears and uncomfortable feelings that may be inhibiting their growth and wellbeing. This might include recognising and acknowledging our most vulnerable and hidden feelings: the shame, insecurity, and sense of worthlessness that many of us feel at times—in other words bringing to light that which has been hidden. Retrieving what was banished to the shadows can often herald a breakthrough thereby allowing clients to shift to a more desired state of being.
Also in my counselling toolkit are mindfulness techniques and a spattering of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Ultimately, the goal is to help clients achieve greater self-awareness, emotional regulation, and resilience, while empowering them to live a happier and more fulfilling life. To get comfortable in their own skin.