No one is an island
Two terrorist attacks in the last four weeks – first Manchester and then London – show how uncertain and frightening our world can be. Most of us are perhaps more used to hearing about such death and destruction in other countries, far away. These attacks occurred right here, in British cities.
Global inequality, climate change and the general election result (for example) all illustrate two things: Firstly, interconnectivity – we are a part of one world; our actions affect others and visa versa. Secondly, uncertainty – nobody knows what the future holds. Terrorist attacks are further, brutal, evidence of the same phenomena.
Larger events can impact upon any of us. Now, you feel fearful when your children want to go out at night. Uneasy about British foreign policy. Angry about fundamentalism. Guilty about inequality. Despairing of violence. Heartened by solidarity.
Perhaps you feel confused and overwhelmed by it all. Or your true feelings lie hidden beneath a public mask of socially-accepted politeness and stock response
An existential therapist will encourage, and acknowledge, his client's true feelings. He will also share his own feelings – his fears, uncertainties and hopes. The therapy room is a legitimate space in which to discuss larger events – and their impact upon an individual life.
Perhaps you see your presenting issue as yours alone. But whether you are feeling anxious, depressed, angry, or are experiencing difficulties in personal relationships, larger events will affect and inform this issue.
In fact, revealing and sharing private, even shameful feelings, with a therapist is therapeutic in and of itself.
The existential therapist believes that we are all, fundamentally, alone. This knowledge is integral to the human experience. Paradoxically, in sharing her feelings of loneliness, the client often begins to feel less so.
You may already be discussing terrorism and Brexit - in the shops, online or over dinner. If you find yourself carrying deep and troubling feelings, however, the therapy room is an ideal place in which to explore them. It is likely that your personal issues – of anxiety, depression or anger for example – are being informed by larger events.
Exploring true feelings, in a safe and confidential space, is a way of understanding and coming-to-terms with these feelings. This is a crucial part of greater self-acceptance – one of the most important goals of therapy.
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About Tom Bailey
Tom is an integrative counsellor working in Chorlton, Manchester. Recent work has lead him into the realm of existential psychotherapy. In March, he undertook a day of CPD with Professor Ernesto Spinelli. In June, he will be undertaking a day's CPD with Professor Susie Orbach.