A view on relationships
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Justin Lee Slaughter. PG Dip. MBACP. Humanistic Integrative Counsellor.
4th August, 20160 Comments
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. There may be difficulties with how we perceive others or others actions may leave us feeling devalued and out of sync. It maybe the way we react and relate leaves us feeling devalued and out of sync too.
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, as well as how we develop. Our realities are 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 and vice verse.This is not to say that other experience's 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 etc.
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. Ask yourself, am I able to communicate honestly with my partner or friends? Do I stop myself from communicating with my partner/friends as I fear a perceived reaction or consequence? You may lack confidence and positive self-esteem, because of previous experiences and learning. What are those previous experiences and how have they informed who you are now? Your partner may lack positive self-esteem and or confidence too? Do you respect yourself, value yourself? 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 devalued, unheard? Left feeling bad, worthless?
When relationships have reached a crisis point, explore how you communicate as well as exploring your own self-image, the bits of you you value or those parts that you feel are devalued. As well as exploring how you may view you partner can be beneficial in helping you better understand and create the changes you desire to make. Exploring the changes you want to make, what are those changes? 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, maybe beneficial. Having that safe, supportive and non-judgmental 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 whilst perhaps increasing your own self-empathy as well as your ability to empathise with others. Making steps to leading a fulfilling life.
About the author
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.
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