Psychotherapists travel with their patients on a life-changing journey. Since this trip may involve unpleasant memories and complicated emotions, clear guidelines are needed to stay on track. At the Institute for Individual and Group Psychotherapy (IIGP), we have found that three basic elements are needed for a successful journey.
The first thing patients must experience is a feeling of safety, to know on a gut level that they are accepted as a person with their problems. They must know their confidentiality will be protected and that they will be treated competently and respectfully at all times.
The patient needs to be both seen and heard. With a growing sense of trust, heart-felt emotions can be openly expressed. Regardless of the topic at hand, the patient needs to know that the therapist will welcome and understand those emotions and be unafraid with the patient.
3. NON-ACTING OUT-AGREEMENT
“I couldn’t help myself because my emotions just got the best of me.” It’s something so commonly heard and said that most people don’t think to question its validity. What we refer to as a “contract,” a non-acting-out agreement, is a tool used to hold patients accountable for their actions, especially when the feelings are strongest. Feelings are not a good guide for action. “I couldn’t help what I did” is not acceptable.
To ensure a rewarding and effective experience for a patient, the proper setting is essential. Safety, acknowledgement of feelings, and taking responsibility for one’s actions are keys for success on the psychotherapy journey.
Click here to learn more about this topic.