Finding our voice through therapy
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Lyn Reed, MBACP (Registered), Ad.Prof Dip.PC, Dip.PC, B.A., M.A., Adv.Dip.CQSW
4th November, 2014
When we experience depression, anxiety and stress, we often feel like our world is falling apart. So it can seem very difficult to engage in a conversation - especially when it's a struggle to even get out of bed! In this situation even the thought of therapy can elicit feelings of heightened anxiety.
Most of us anticipating face to face therapy will expect it to take the form of a conversation - an activity taken for granted on a daily basis. But it may be that upon entering therapy we discover we have 'lost our voice'. This doesn't mean we are spending our time in total silence. But we may have come to believe, for whatever reason, we have nothing worthwhile to say. Embarking on therapy with the expectation of engaging in dialogue can sometimes leave us feeling a bit anxious.
As a result, we may develop an awareness of just how vocally 'muzzled' we have become.
When we feel we have lost our voice, we usually try very hard to get it working again. When we put ourselves under this pressure, we can risk delaying our eventual recovery. This can leave us feeling further debilitated; it's as if all our thoughts have no outlet and our ability to engage in the most natural of activities seems to have deserted us.
Such loss can remind us of times when we may have been told to 'keep quiet' in case we upset others or we disclose things which we have been encouraged to 'keep under wraps'. 'Watching what we say' can be another form of feeling silenced. If we have experienced abuse or trauma this may have been the way we have learnt to deal with our emotions. And in doing so, we may also have come to believe we are unimportant, insignificant or have little of any interest to say. Such thinking patterns can develop into negative beliefs and a self-fulfilling prophecy of worthlessness.
It may also feel that every path we have taken so far in life seems to have led nowhere - so we tell ourselves that we may as well as 'do as others say'. Keeping quiet can sometimes seem a safer option.
Finding our voices again can take a while. Changes are often more beneficial and embedded if they are small and steady; by voicing our concerns, our feelings and our self beliefs we can make profound and significant advances in the way we engage in the world around us. It is important that we don't feel overwhelmed by change itself - which is often difficult anyway - and take it a step at a time. Acknowledging our thoughts is a big step; to suppress them only seems to make our negative thinking reverberate in our heads.
The 'golden hour' of therapy is a significant one. Finding a voice in therapy can be the start to rediscovering our major communication tool. Learning to speak in a way which gives us renewed strength in a safe environment. We discover that we are being listened to as well as heard - and we can develop a sense of self respect, connection and self validation.
Therapy can help us to find a balance - the ability to talk in a way which makes sense - a time to be both reflective and forward thinking. Above all, it helps provide us with an opportunity to learn to be in the present. In addition, therapy offers a time and place for quietness which can be healing as well as feel empowering.
Counselling can be an opportunity to slow things down; to reflect or simply 'be'. And it is worth remembering that sometimes we can speak volumes without a word being uttered.
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