Empathy, therapy and you

Seeing a therapist can be daunting but often the only reason for this is because, if you have never seen a therapist before, it is fear of the unknown.

'What will happen?’
‘I wonder what they (the therapist) will be like in person?’
‘Can we do this over the phone and it still help?’
‘What is online counselling like?’

The questions somehow match what seems to be the almost overwhelming choices available when it comes to seeking a therapist and, ultimately, booking your appointment. Well, I have some good news... it’s all down to empathy. Allow me to (hopefully) help you to alleviate just some of those anxieties you might be having.

Personally I sometimes find the academic side of counselling and therapy a little confusing – and I’m a therapist! Training, professional boundaries, legal issues, personal development (to name a few) are all vital for a therapist to work with you safely. It is so very important for you to know that the practitioner you are seeking help from can actually see the bigger picture and assist you to discover, or rediscover, who you are again. It may seem effortless from the outside and you might see therapists as ‘sorted’ and ‘sane’ people but here is the punch line and I really want to get this perhaps unorthodox approach through to you – therapists are human first, practitioner second. Now just take a breath and see if the counsellor or psychotherapist (or healer or body-worker, whichever professional you are drawn to) can come tumbling off that pedestal. Once they do – you are on the first rung of the ladder. This is where the most crucial and quite beautiful aspect of the therapeutic relationship can start to flourish – empathy.

Empathy is a deeply felt form of compassion. Compassion is an all encompassing sense or experience of genuine care and concern for all living beings. You are a living being and so is your dog, your cat and the birds in the sky. As a general rule, or sense, we all want to be happy. We all also do not want to suffer. If you are religious, or have a faith, you might recognise this concept, this ideology, from Buddhism. However, to me this is just plain common sense. Empathy is compassion, kindness, a sense of relating, almost feeling, exactly feeling, how the other human being (or living being) is experiencing their world. In the very least, empathy feels like heartfelt kindness and concern and when you gently brush this with a professional boundary – it can feel incredibly supportive and in some cases quite liberating.

‘Wow, this person really cares about me.’
‘I feel loved.’
‘I thought nobody cared, it seems I was wrong.’
‘I feel connected.’

These are just some thoughts that can fleet through your mind when you find the right therapist for you. If you don’t particularly gel with the first one, try again. We are fully aware that not all therapies and not all therapists fit all patients or clients. Sometimes you have to do a little digging and see if the human being in front of you resonates with who you are right now. You might need to ask them questions, that’s okay. You may feel motivated to do some research online or pick up a professional publication or magazine on therapies. This whole process of selecting the right professional for you can also feel empowering in its own right.

I hope that helps, wherever you are on your journey.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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