It is very important, when meeting a therapist for the first time, that the patient feels a sense that they are understood and that the therapist seems capable of insights and interventions that make the patient feel a sense of possibility in their work together.
Whether new to therapy or seeking help after many years of treatment, the prospective patient should feel that this new relationship is “fresh” and presents new ideas for helping them.
Individual psychotherapy is also about trust: Trust in the therapist to remain focused on symptoms and treatment goals, trust that the therapist is committed to the process and employ their skill set to the fullest.
Confidentiality is paramount and any sense that it has been violated can destroy any sense of trust and, subsequently, the relationship.
Individual psychotherapy calls upon the patient to commit to the process, strive for authenticity, and hold the therapist accountable to the process as well. By this, I mean that the patient should tell the process if they are not in agreement about any aspect of their work.
By doing so, the patient learns that self-advocacy reflects a greater sense of self-importance, very often an issue that psychotherapy strives to address.
But, what are ways of being effective without being forceful? Learning to express one’s anger in a more engaging manner, rather than one that frightens or punishes, makes room for the other person or persons to respond in kind and increase the potential for understanding and a resolution to the conflict.
Learning to speak calmly and from the perspective of how you feel is more effective and engaging than global, angry statements. Speaking softly can keep the conversation going. Shouting or violence invites a similar response and can escalate into fighting.
When a young child is angry at their parent, you might hear them shout “I hate you!”. They might mean “I want ice cream and you’re making me take a nap,” but they may not have the ability to fully process and present their objection.
An adult has the ability to do so, but sometimes it comes out as “I hate you!” or something else hurtful to someone else.
Alternatives to anger can mean better self-representation through a more acceptable presentation. It can also mean taking a walk, going to the gym, or calling a friend when one is angry rather than engaging in hurtful, harmful behavior.