“It’s good to talk,” so the old saying goes – and this year’s National Conversation Week (19th – 25th March) is encouraging us all to put our smartphones down, take a break from social media, and have real conversations with actual people in our lives.
That may feel rather old-fashioned, given that much of our communication these days takes place via text, email or through a social media site. Yet having a heart-to-heart with a pal and getting things off your chest can feel cathartic, especially if you feel your friend has truly heard you, and you feel you’ve shared something significant. Talking can also help you feel less alone and more connected.
You may be fortunate to have several meaningful, two-way friendships that support and uplift you. You may wonder what difference a therapist can make when you’ve got a bunch of mates you can talk to. Yet those friends may not always be there for you when you need them. They have lives too, and their own challenges, thoughts and feelings to grapple with. Some of your issues may need more than a quick chat. And, if you’re always bringing the same dilemma or issue to discuss with your friends at various times of the week, you may feel they’re running out of patience with you.
As talking therapists, active dialogue is at the heart of what we do. We can never be your friend, but we can offer a consistent weekly space where you can explore all your hopes, fears, disappointments and difficulties.
Here’s how speaking to a therapist offers something more than chatting with a friend…
A therapist actively listens
A friend may partly listen but may also have their answer running, waiting for a gap in conversation to they can jump in and share their story. A therapist will listen closely to what you’re saying, and reflect back your thoughts and feelings – to help you feel heard, met and understood.
A therapist gives you space
The weekly 50-minute session with your therapist is yours to use how you wish. A therapist gives you time and space to sob, yell, think, feel and reflect – without any expectations put upon you.
A therapist won’t judge
One of the gifts of talking therapy is the permission to speak your truth. You may try out ways of communicating, or saying things you haven’t yet dared say, and your therapist won’t judge you. It can build an inner freedom to connect with your true self, to be able to express that truth in the real world, and to feel resilient enough to withstand the consequences of putting your truth out there.
A therapist won’t give advice
Often your friends will hear you out but then jump in with their perspective and offer advice that’s worked for them. That isn’t always helpful: you won’t to be heard and supported, not told what to do. A therapist can’t and won’t advise you. He or she, however, will be able to help you draw on your inner resources to find solutions and insights within you.
You don’t need to take care of your therapist
Your relationship with your therapist starts and ends with those 50 minutes every week. You won’t see your therapist outside of that time. Your therapist is not part of your everyday life. You don’t need to take care of their feelings or worry what they’re thinking of you for bringing the same issue week on week. They will instead encourage you to take care of yourself rather than always putting others first – and they will support your courage to work on the deepest difficulties in your life.
If you would like to start talking therapy with a trained professional, give us a call on 020 8673 4545 and we’ll book you in for your first session. We have therapy sessions available seven days a week at our centres in Clapham and Tooting. You can also reach us by email: [email protected]