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  • Fe Robinson

Love begets love

“In order for a child to become kind, giving and empathetic, he needs to be treated that way…A child raised with love wants to make those around him happy because he sees that his happiness makes them happy, too.” Perry and Szalavitz

I meet many people who believe that their symptoms reveal that there is something wrong with them, that they are somehow bad, inadequate or broken.  Listening to the chaotic and complex life stories of some adult clients it is easy to understand how this misconception could have come about, often these messages have been repeated, or inferred many times in many ways.

Bruce Perry and his colleagues have written and spoken eloquently about why the question ‘what’s wrong with me?’ is really the wrong question when we are dealing with mental health difficulties.  The more fruitful and realistic question is ‘what happened to me?’  We are the way we are because of the life experiences we have had, right from our experiences within our birth mother’s womb, through early childhood and on into our adult lives.  Genes play a role of course, but epigenetics research demonstrates that what happens to us has a big influence on what of our genetic potential gets turned on, and what does not, as we grow and develop.

The good news is that our life experiences can influence our mental health, emotional health, physical health, and behaviours at any time in our life.  The brain is flexible and changes, and there are treatments available that change our brain wiring at any time.  It is interesting that Perry also notes that many therapeutic moments happen in every day life, it is not only (or even mostly) therapists that cause healing and development.  

Traumatised children and adults are impacted by interactions throughout their lives in every context.  Carers, educators, friends, extended family members, community members….each has many moments in which they can heal and provide a therapeutic benefit, just by being kind, giving and empathetic, and by communicating that the wellbeing of the person they are with  really matters to them.

We all have the opportunity to impact the character and wellbeing of the people in our life through our every day interactions.  Actually, it’s often the everyday interactions people want to talk about when they come to therapy, particularly to begin with.  These week by week incidences can  be used as a way in to understanding the deeper patterns of the way people interact.  Problematic interactions are useful clues to help us know where healing work is most needed.  Positive interactions can be used to consolidate changes and to help clients reshape how they feel about themselves.

Therapy does not happen in isolation.  It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to support an adult.  We are not meant to exist in isolation.  Psychotherapy can be a useful bridge to help with relating with others, a safe place where you can experiment and learn about how you do, and can, interact.  At the same time, finding local connections and building relationships and mutual support is important alongside this, it enriches life and improves emotional well-being.

For support in growing into yourself more fully through in person psychotherapy in Darlington or online psychotherapy across the UK, get in touch at or check out my website at

man and baby snuggled in a blanket sleeping


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