For Therapy to work, you must have a good connection…
and that’s why
self-help books don’t work.
Our emotional lives, with all their emotional cues, are on board before any verbal or conceptual ability appears. And the consequences of these experiences are unaffected by intellectual efforts to change them. That may be because emotions, and our powerful “memories”, seem to be stored in the right hemisphere of the brain. And yet our thinking (or intellectualizing) is a left-hemisphere activity.
Books and conversations about why we act the way we do are certainly helpful, but they don’t seem to be enough to effect real changes in our interactions with the world and ourselves.
So how can we make real changes?
Only by recreating as much as possible the initial conditions in which the processes were created in the first place. We are born wired to seek connection with others. You may have heard that, “your first loves (parents) create the models for every relationship there after.” They become our relationship-blueprints, if you will. Our experiences, especially with our caregivers, will become unconscious, intuitive memories that form the basis of our emotional life.
So if you want to change the deep, un-conscious patterns that define your reactions to life’s events, you need an environment that can mirror those earliest connections, while, ideally, re-writing them (“neuro-plasticity”). The result is a more harmonious existence in your current situations.
A powerful way to do this is through a positive connection with a trained professional (i.e., a psychotherapist). Good therapy aims to create a safe connection with the client so that emotional healing can take place.
And there is more to it, of course. Techniques that require direct experience have proven effective, such as working with the “inner child” through writing exercises, mindfulness meditations, and others. I believe these techniques work because they access the right brain.
When my client opens up to me as much as they can in a session, I know that we are accessing the right brain. In doing so, the chances for authentic change become possible.