Therapy is a space where you can speak freely about what you really feel and think, with someone completely separated from your daily life, whose only agenda is giving you their undivided attention with unconditional respect, radical yet sensitive honesty and true empathy.
Therapy might involve working on a particular problem or issue you have with yourself or your life, with the explicit goal of resolving it. Therapy might also take a broader view of your life, and consist more in an attempt to understand it rather than ‘fix’ an aspect of it. However, as understanding changes the way we think, feel and behave, some change is usually expected no matter how one might demarcate the ‘goals’ of therapy. Commonly, one’s sense of well-being, one’s experience of specific types of suffering (sadness, anger, anxiety, etc.), the narrative of one’s life, one’s early experiences and one’s relationships are explored.
Everyone has thoughts that they do not consciously think, feelings that they are not aware of feeling, and beliefs they are not aware of having. Although read literally the proceeding sounds bizarre and slightly insane (or, even worse, Freudian), most adults are able to identify times in their lives when they acted out a feeling they would have denied having despite it being perfectly obvious to all around them (‘I’m not angry, you just aren’t listening!’), or were profoundly dishonest with themselves about their motivations for acting as they did. Therapy often involves bringing this unconscious material to light, particularly focusing on how it affects one's relationships and especially one's relationship with oneself.
In the same vein, it is often the case that individuals operate in new relationships in ways they did in previous ones, and that we frequently bring expectations, baggage and emotions to our relationships that we are unaware of. Therapy involves making links between the way a client relates to the therapist, to people in their personal life, and to their relationships in childhood.
As therapy is about exploring, acknowledging and owning your experience, I will be interested in how your identity affects your life and your relationships, be that at the level of culture, gender, class, nationality, race and ethnicity, sexuality, religion, disability, wealth, education, political affiliation, experience of and capacity for prejudice, and so on. Identity is a complex thing, and I will approach understanding yours with sensitivity and humility.
Distinctions between counselling and psychotherapy are made and debated academically, with counselling generally being thought of as shorter term and more focused on specific issues, whereas psychotherapy lasts longer and incorporates more of the client's past. I use the term 'therapy' to include both.