I have explained in the previous article “How to Get Over
Childhood Stress: The Process of Getting Hurt" how childhood experiences became
part of the child’s neurological physiology that over time, through re-enforcement
and repetition becomes an aspect of its personality structure.
The task of recovery is to stop the process of repetition
and re-enforcement of the unwanted beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours and to
encourage new, positive ways of being in this world. Thus new neuro-pathways
need to be created (if you remember that has to happen through experience!!) or
if they exist but are just faint connections they have to be strengthened
through more and regular traffic. At the same time it has to be avoided to go
down the familiar path of neuro-connections that are negative and unhelpful so
that they wither away. On paper that sounds very easy, doesn't it?
To build new, positive connections we need to create a
situation that mimics to some extend the situation between parent and child.
The best way I know that can take place is by engaging with a therapist and
create positive, supportive experiences. As the client musters the courage to
talk about the hurt, the pain, and the victories, the therapist will focus
intently and intensively on what is missing and what is needed, will be
predictable, reliable, understanding, supportive, encouraging, clarifying, and accepting
the client. He or she will be there when you get distressed while you talk
about the things that stressed you in the past, and will assist you in getting
through this distress. In doing so, you will acquire regulation skills and
distress tolerance. You will be validated and things will be put in perspective
for you. Your negative beliefs about you
will be challenged and you will start seeing yourself in a different light.
These are the most important aspects that make talking
therapies work by creating new, positive neuro pathways. So the relationship you develop with the
therapist holds the key to healing and recovery. While you explore in your
sessions the things that most hinder you like saying NO to people, getting
close to others, speaking your mind, meeting new people, abstaining from drugs
or alcohol, you might be guided to learn skills that help you to be more
assertive, be more direct, be more open, be less afraid … and so fort. As your
confidence grows you’ll find that you are less shy and more able to stretch out
of your comfort zone. The more you trust your therapist that she/he knows what
she/he is doing, the more you will become willing and able to try out things
that used to be scary or didn’t feel right.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of methods are used by
the therapist you work with. Well, it matters that you are comfortable with the
methods. In general, all that matters is the relationship as described above.
Because, in a way, you are forming a new SELF, a you that knows deep in your
heart that you are OK, that you deserve to be treated well, and that you are
able to insure people do treat you with consideration, respect, and
appreciation. While you can learn about things from a book, you can not build a
stronger SELF through a book get it from a pill. The development of the self is
an interactive process between two people who give recognition to each other.
You only know who you are when you see yourself through the eyes of another
person that is important to you. If that person appreciates you, you feel good.
If that person is nasty to you, you feel distressed.
Do you need to go to a therapist to have such an experience?
Not necessarily. But not many people have someone in their lives who is willing
– for an extended length of time – to focus exclusively on your needs so that
you can develop the neuro-pathways needed to be happy and content with your