A view on relationships
Counselling and Psychotherapy are relational endeavours. We often come into therapy as the relationship we have with ourselves (intra) and others (inter) are impeded in some way. There may be difficulties with our self-view, self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. Which will inhibit the way we relate to both ourselves and others.
We are inherently social beings. We have grown up with many influences, socialised into particular ways of being. We build a view of ourselves which is born out of our moment to moment experiences with our caregivers. How we look after ourselves later in life can be seen as a reflection of this. Our realities are thus shaped by those who offer us care as young developing individuals. This is where others values, wishes and projections may become muddled with our own. This is not to say that other experiences can also shape and reform these realities. Such as having a long and secure relationship later in life, or a job that provides you with positive and affirmative experiences that you can succeed and etcetera.
Relate the relationship charity emphasise how 'good relationships' impact our health and even our mortality. Positive relationships are extremely beneficial to us as people, as individuals.
For any relationship to work, good effective communication is essential. So too are values of respect, empathy, acceptance and trust.
- Am I able to communicate honestly with my partner or friends?
- Do I stop from communicating with my partner/friends as I fear a perceived reaction or consequence?
- You may lack confidence and good self-esteem, because of previous experiences. Your partner may lack self-esteem and or confidence too?
- Do I respect myself, value myself?
- What do you expect from your partner? Each other? Do you feel your partner respects you?
These questions are fundamental to increasing your own understanding of not only your own personality dynamics and learned ways of being but are crucial in understanding your partners too. Are there times in your life when you have felt de-valued, unheard? Left feeling bad, guilty, anxious, angry, worthless?
In counselling work when relationships have reached a crisis point, exploring how you communicate within them. As well as exploring your self-image and that intrinsic 'you' that values your feelings can be significant. As well as exploring how you view you partner can be beneficial in helping you better understand and create the changes you desire to make.
In that vein what are the changes you want to make?
- How do you go about creating them?
- What helps and what doesn't?
- The therapeutic relationship provided in counselling provides a platform in which you can increase your self-worth, feel valued, heard and experiment with new ways of being. Challenge yourself and take steps to feeling more fulfilled, respecting yourself as well as increasing your own insights and empathy towards others. Which can be extremely beneficial for those who seek change as so often is the way.
Talking about the way we relate with ourselves and others is beneficial. Using creative ways of exploring this may be useful. Exploring what you expect of others, How you view yourself, How you view or perceive others response's to you, may be beneficial. Having that safe, supportive and nonjudgmental platform that is the therapeutic relationship is both an explorative and reparative opportunity. One in which you can increase your self-awareness, understanding, self-worth and hopefully develop and make the changes you wish for. Perhaps increasing your own self-empathy as well as your ability to empathise with others. Making steps to leading a fulfilling life.
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About Justin Lee Slaughter
I have a background in counselling and psychotherapy, social science and in healthcare with a broad range of experience in both adult and adolescent mental health. I manage a small private practice, I currently volunteer as part of a counselling team at THT Brighton and Hove, as well as working in community mental health support services.