I'm trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches and offer therapy for a wide range of issues and problems we may face in life. Below I will explain a little more about my approach to some commonly experienced issues.
Some things in life are truly mysterious, but many of them needn’t be. Once we decide to take a proper look at issues we may have, they can be understood and changed through an inner process. Usually we try to change things outside of us. We may think: “If the other person (partner, boss, children, parents etc.) would be different, then I could be happy.” Or: “If I had a different house; a bigger, better car; a new TV or a new handbag, I would feel better.”
Sometimes these things do help a little, but usually it doesn’t work for very long. They may distract us for a while, until we realise that we still feel the same emptiness, restlessness or frustration, the same loneliness, sadness or powerlessness. Then we need to look deeper, and therapy can help with this.
Relationships can bring a lot of joy and fulfilment if we know how to make them work. This may sound strange, but unfortunately most of us aren't taught anywhere – neither at home nor at school – how to make relationships work. What most people who have relationship-problems think, is: "If my partner would change, then all would be well". But of course that's only half the story. It takes two to tango, and it takes two who are willing to learn new ways of relating, to turn things round. We often go into a relationship with the hope that the other person will make us happy and fulfil our needs. This is partly true, but only partly. We all have a history and bring baggage into a relationship; and we may be living under the illusion that our partner should give us what we never had, and they should heal our wounds. Normally, this is too much to ask, and partners can feel helpless, and overwhelmed by the demands of the other.
But there are also partners that don't know how to listen properly, or they don't know how to speak up and say what they feel and think, and how to do this in a way that brings positive results. Some partners think that the relationship is fine, while the other one feels neglected and lonely. Learning how to communicate is paramount. It's the foundation on which good relationships can be built. If your attempts at communicating always turn into rows, then you are caught up in a "drama-dynamic". In therapy, we can work on how to step out of this destructive dynamic, and how to talk things through in a way that will make both partners feel heard and appreciated. A relationship will get better, if both partners are willing to do this work.
We may have lost a loved one and don't know how to cope and to live without that person. Bereavement can be cruel, and it is not necessary to go through all that pain on our own. It is helpful to share this difficult experience with another human being and to tell somebody who is able to really listen, about the person we lost. We may even have conflicting emotions: grief, pain, but also anger about being left behind, or guilt and regret because some things remained unspoken, unfinished. It is possible to work through all these emotions and to find the strength to carry on living without the person we lost. We can even learn how to make peace with the person who is physically no longer with us, and so find inner peace for ourselves as well.
“We cannot change anything unless we accept it.”
-Carl Gustav Jung
It can be quite difficult to take that first step and contact a therapist. It can feel like crossing a threshold. Maybe we have admitted to ourselves that we could do with some support, but to make that phone call means, that we admit it to another person as well. This is not easy, since most of us have learned, that we should be able to cope on our own, and that admitting to needing help is a weakness. I think that asking for support is a courageous and healthy thing to do; it's the first step to sharing the burden and making our lives better. We may battle with too much anger, a mighty energy which can cause a lot of trouble and destruction in our lives and relationships. But this powerful energy could also be used in a positive, constructive way. We just need to find out how to do it; and this we can do in therapy.
In my experience, people who decide to go to therapy because of anger issues sometimes get frightened after they contacted the counsellor. I think they may get scared of facing up to the damage this issue has caused in their lives and relationships. They may feel ashamed and afraid, and it may seem too hard, to admit this to themselves and to the therapist. They may turn up for the initial meeting and say that they want to give it a go. But then shame and fear kick in, and they cancel the next session, which is really regrettable, because in therapy they might finally find somebody who doesn't judge them, who could help them to understand where all this anger comes from, and how to change their lives for the better. For some people, anger was the only way to get through difficult and scary times, a survival-strategy. In therapy, they will get the chance to learn to cope with difficulties without destroying their relationships all around them. I really would like to reassure them, that things can and will get better, as long as they can take that risk and make a commitment to the therapeutic process.
Anxiety and Depression can have many causes and often go hand in hand. It is absolutely possible to find out what these causes are. Some are more obvious and more on the surface, like being in the wrong job where we can’t use our real talents and strengths, or we are in a difficult relationship and can’t figure out how to change things for the better. Some causes may lie deeper in your psyche, and not be so obvious. You may feel hopeless, and that life is not worth living; you may have trouble sleeping, feel empty, or anxious and irritable for no particular reason; you may have lost your libido or your appetite, or you eat too much, and maybe you feel that things will never change. It’s like living under a heavy black cloud with no hope of it ever lifting. Some of the reasons for feeling this way could be, that you are too adapted, to “good”; you listen too much to others and ignore what you really feel. Maybe you feel, that your life in general is a mess, and you can’t find a way to bring some order into it. Maybe you don’t think much of yourself, and don’t trust yourself and your feelings. Maybe you try to be somebody else than who you really are; you put a lot of effort into pleasing others and forget what is right for you.
These are only a few examples, and there may be other causes, including unprocessed traumatic experiences, but whatever they are, they usually have something to do with us having lost the connection to our True Self, to who we really are. We can work on these issues and improve the quality of your life if you are willing and ready to engage in this work and stick with it for a while. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.
If you are thinking of starting therapy, you might want to know how it actually works. All therapists are different and work in their individual ways. This is how I do it: Our first personal contact will be by phone, email or text. We will then meet for an assessment. For you, this first meeting is to find out whether you feel comfortable with me, and if the way I work suits you. For me, this is to find out a bit more about you, and to explain to you about confidentiality, cost, duration of sessions, cancellation policy etc. We then both go away, have a think and feel, and decide whether we would like to work with each other. Once we have decided to go ahead, we will find a time-slot on which we are both free every week.
After about six sessions we will review our work to get an idea where we’re at, and where to go from here. It takes a bit of time to get to know, and connect with each other.
Some clients want to focus on a certain problem or situation and once this has changed to their satisfaction, they decide to end therapy for the time being. Others might be struggling with an existential crisis and want to go deeper, in which case the work can be open-ended or until the client finds themselves on firmer ground again.
I don’t work by following one certain method. It’s more like having a tool box with lots of different tools in it, and using the one that seems appropriate for a particular client in a particular session: Some clients mainly want to talk things through and understand what’s actually happening to them. Others have a talent for working with dreams and the imagination; again others might want to learn to communicate in a more effective way, or learn how to deal with emotions or experiences that cause them problems, like anger, anxiety, stress, depression, or relationship problems etc.; or they suffer from physical symptoms, and body-focussing may be helpful to them.
As persons we are equals and we are creating this process of change together. It’s not for me to tell you what to do or to give you all the answers. Your Inner Self knows what needs to happen, in order to improve your quality of life, to make life more meaningful and fulfilling. Through this therapeutic process the answers will emerge. It’s all there! The treasure lies within you. Together we can find out how to unearth it.
©2021 Judith Schuepfer-Griffin
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