So recently someone asked me to explain how therapy is different from coffee with a trusted friend. The answer lies in the relationship dynamic. When you go for coffee with a friend, inherent in the experience is that both people are there to get their needs met. The needs could range from having fun to supporting one another through difficult times. However, you are both (ideally) mindful of what each other is going through and it isn't about one person or the other. This is the biggest difference. In therapy, the basic agreement is that both the therapist and you will be focusing on you and using the information that you each have to help you with your situation. You have information about your thoughts, feelings and behaviour from inside yourself that is fundamental and can only be accessed by you. The therapist has information from their training and life experience that they can impart to you about what coping skills, thoughts, resources or choices may be helpful in your situation that can help you to get to your goal. Often times decisions that we make as adults are about double binds that there isn't a 'right' answer. There is just the one that you think you can live with long term. When we talk to friends it is common for people to tell you what they think you should do. And what they tell you is what THEY would do if they were in your situation! Their recommendations are a reflection of their values. A therapist is trained not to project their values onto you but to help you to sort out and figure out what your values are. Your therapist is someone who is completely on your side and yet, not a friend. You are paying your therapist to challenge you and teach you and support you in the areas that are weaknesses so that you can be more empowered and happy in your life ....without having an investment in what you choose. Lots of times friends just tell you what you want to hear and it doesn't heal the faulty belief systems or behaviours that may be driving the problems in your life. Furthermore, some therapists are trained in accessing and healing trauma buried in the body using EMDR, Somatic Experiencing or Neurofeedback which you obviously can't do over coffee either!
Just in case you thought going for a cup of coffee with a friend might be the same thing....
Check out this awesome Manhattan Transfer version of Java Jive!
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! Sometimes the barrage of information, chatter and feedback externally and internally can be deafening! And, mostly, people are hardest on how they talk to themselves. If you want to make a huge difference to your self-esteem and stress, choose your words/thoughts carefully. Be mindful and take the word 'should' out of your vocabulary and instead replace it with 'could'. Notice how much more empowered that makes you feel. Or change 'but' to 'and' so that it doesn't discount either someone else's (or your own) ideas or feelings. 'But' tends to discount the first half of the sentence. Ya....BUT!!!....and then the 'real' point gets driven home as if the first thing that was talked about doesn't matter.
Here's a list of words that people commonly use and how to change them to empower yourself:
Should - Could
Ya But - And
Need - Want to
Can't - Won't, have decided not to
Always, never - Sometimes, frequently
Try - Intend to, commit to
I'm just - I am
Problem - Challenge
If only - Next time
Words form thoughts which connect to behaviour and feelings. Choose wisely and mindfully and you'll feel better.
Speaking of words....listen to this beautiful song by Chris Medina