As Aristotle said, we are by our very nature social animals. We are born into the world unable to survive alone. Our relationships help us to know who we are and we learn about the world from other people. Ultimately the survival of the human race depends on connections with others and our success as individuals and our fulfilment throughout life is deeply affected by other people. Therefore to make a connection with another person at a time of pain makes a lot of sense!
Talking about our problems and expressing feelings in the presence of someone else can be very healing. We can express feelings on our own and maybe find some relief from that but the therapeutic value may be missing. To do it in the presence of someone else can be so much more than just the release of emotion, it can mean having those feelings seen, recognised or valued, sometimes for the first time. Expressing sadness can mean getting some much needed nurturing, revealing anger may mean being heard and validated, expressing scare may mean that you receive some soothing or a way of rationalising the scare and being happy can mean celebrating with someone else. These are just examples and what is needed will differ depending on the individual.
Talking about our problems to someone else also means that we are getting another view point. When I first went into therapy I remember thinking that my ways of looking at the world, of being, thinking etc were pretty ‘normal’ and I subconsciously thought that everyone else thought this way. However, I soon realised that actually my way of being was just that: MY way and that there were lots of other ways of seeing the world and feeling, thinking and behaving. I found this incredibly liberating, that I didn’t have to remain stuck in my own ways but that there were plenty of options and other directions that I could go in.
Being in therapy also means that we can be challenged out of our comfortable ways of being. As mentioned we can get stuck in certain ways and having someone on the outside challenging our thinking, our doing or our feeling can be enormously helpful. An example of this might be to do with how you feel. You might have a particular comfortable way of feeling in reaction to certain relationships or situations. This way of feeling may not be pleasant, it might be downright miserable but you feel ok with it, you know the rules, you know how it works and you are used to it. On exploration you might realise that it’s your ‘favourite’ feeling, a default one almost but that it is entirely unproductive. Talking about this might be the first time that you actually give this feeling a voice, explore it, receive nurturing or validation if necessary. The important thing here can be that you are no longer ‘stuck’ with it and maybe you can move through it and resolve it with the help of someone else.
Ultimately deciding on a talking therapy gives yourself a strong message that you are not alone with your problems, that there is someone else to hear you and understand you. Everyone is different and therapy may not be for everyone and may not work for everyone so you have to decide what is best for you.