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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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How Does Psychotherapy Work? Very Simply.

Uploaded: Aug 13, 2015
I was recently reading "Shrunken Heads" by Gregory Lester, Ph.D., and came across these descriptions of what psychotherapy is and how it works:

"Psychotherapy. . . is a treatment activity that is designed to work on the mechanisms of the human psyche in such a way as to give someone something they are missing or to enable them to get it for themselves.*

Psychotherapy works very simply ? it enables you to see things about yourself or your life that you can't currently see and that is affecting how you feel, what you do, and what happens to you. Once you can see what has been making the things happen that have been happening, you can get your hands around it and do something to improve how you feel, what you do, or what happens to you.**

In couples counseling we give you what's missing (e.g., specific communication tools, skills, perspective, coached practice, homework, etc.), and help you get what is missing for yourselves (e.g., through personal inner work, meditation, practice, etc.).

In couples counseling, the therapist must be unbiased: she must build trust with both of you for the counseling to be effective. That doesn't always mean doing the exact same intervention with each of you because you are not the same person.

As the two of you see the process and dynamic you are in together, you can both individually and jointly do things to improve how you feel, what you do, and what happens to the two of you.

When you keep doing the same things (e.g., arguing without resolution, not having intimacy, not talking or listening), you will continue to get the same outcome: unhappiness.

Unhappiness in relationships is among the top stressors of life in the industrialized world. Coping mechanisms may include working more, drinking too much, having an affair, etc.

Often coping strategies backfire eventually, bringing further unhappiness.

What would it be like to be happy again?

*Page 121
**Page 302

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