Talking about now in psychotherapy

by Fe Robinson

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There is a widespread view that psychotherapy is all about the past.  As an outcome-oriented practitioner, this does not resonate with my experience of the therapeutic process and what helps.  In this blog I briefly explore this theme.

In psychotherapy, two people are sat, in relationship.  The first task is to develop a clear understanding of what brings us to be in the room - what is the client's outcome? Working that out is not always straightforward and may take some time, but clients having a multi-sensory, embodied experience of what they want to have happen is in itself a powerful impetus for change.

Once the outcome is clear, then what happens? That depends on the outcome. Generally clients explore where they are in relation to what they want now, and become aware of what needs to change to enable their transition to what they want to have happen.

This exploration may include understanding how current patterns of relating and behaving came about. It may be important to reinterpret past events and let go of old explanations that limit or no longer serve.

However, the important emphasis is on being fully present with now, and on finding peace and resonance with our own experience, and through that growing into new ways of being.

The past informs this process, but we can only experience it in the here and now, just as we can only anticipate the future in the moment we are in.

Psychotherapy is a process of being with what is happening right here, right now. That includes working with what we feel and think about our therapist, and the relationship we have, and making use of the patterns we play out as we work.  If this is not up for discussion, then the spontaneity and dynamic nature of psychotherapy is impaired.

If you are considering psychotherapy, ask yourself, are you willing to work directly with the now? If so, then it may well be useful for you.

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