I’m seeing an increase in clients who want to better understand themselves and how their lives have taken the shape they have – and what possibility there is to make meaningful changes, especially in relationships. This is across clients of all ages and all stages of life, from those in their twenties to those in their seventies.
The clients I’m currently seeing generally aren’t coming to me with any particular crisis. They’re doing so because they feel stuck – whether at work, in life or in love. They want to find the braver, happier, more fulfilled person inside them trying to get out, and wanting to find ways to reach this inner person. Many of my clients are existing with low-level frustration, without being able to pinpoint what they are frustrated with, let alone find the tools to address it. They have struggled with the decision to reach out to a therapist – feeling guilt because they may have all the trappings of a ‘good life’ – financial security, family and friends, a secure job… They ask themselves why they can’t just ‘cheer up and get on with it’.
Clients are seeking more and more, a ‘key to their door’.
This new wave of clients seems, in part, to have been prompted by the recent epochal changes to all our lives as a result of CoVid and lockdown. And also, it seems, by the increase in counselling self-help on social media platforms, especially Instagram and TikTok which talk loud and often in particular about anxiety, depression, and leaving unfulfilling or controlling relationships.
Client confidentiality naturally means I can’t talk about specific clients, so what I’m writing here draws heavily on a great article I recently came across written by Hannah Booth in The Guardian about her own experience of therapy and how it changed her life.
She accurately describes her own therapist as part-detective, part archaeologist, scratching at the surface, finding something of particular interest and digging a little deeper. When I work with clients, I work at their pace, and my training and experience respects that different clients have different needs and different levels of readiness for the deeper wok, which often involves looking at family relationships. But I find most clients respond with relief and exhilaration when we figure out how they have survived by fitting into their families, their roles, their small world – and how these ways of being have been carried forward to their adult lives where they’re no longer helpful. More often than not, it is these powerful insights that create change in and of themselves… one a person has a clear understanding of why they behave in certain unhelpful ways, this naturally spurs change.
Therapy will always be there, and helpful for, the crises such as grief, bereavement, sexual violence, addictions, relationship breakdown and the common mental unwellness of anxiety and depression. Short term therapy that provides ways of managing anxiety and other emotional distress is powerful and useful.
However, it can be more and bigger than that. Therapy won’t ‘fix’ you, because you’re not broken. But it can help you access and make sense of who you are, why you behave as you do, and what tools there are to make change happen if that’s what you wish for. Therapy ultimately helps you become your own therapist.
If you’d like to find out more about how therapy can help you change the picture of your life, I’d love to hear from you.