The central purpose of all psychotherapy is to clear
suppressed material that is affecting us adversely. Suppression is the primary
psychological mechanism that leads to emotional and spiritual dysfunction.
Suppression is something that we all do. Those who reach the point of severe
distress have merely gone further in suppressing than the average person;
those who are considered well balanced suppress less than normal. The standard
of emotional health in our society, therefore, is far below the potential
possible for humankind, but this just has to do with our current evolutionary
level of growth.
For the past fifty years or so, psychological therapy
has been the most common means for people in the West to receive help in
dealing with stressful emotional conditions or simply to become more sensitive
to themselves. Before therapy became available, such help was provided by
the church. Today the psychological has largely become separated from the
spiritual. Spirituality is often overlooked, or not desired, by persons
who turn to psychology for assistance.
The therapeutic effort is devoted, first, to uncovering
or making conscious the feelings and patterns that are unconsciously influencing
the client in undesirable ways. Second, therapy is directed toward releasing
stored negativity through various approaches, depending on the school.
The therapist accepts the client
Regardless of the approach, therapists who are effective
share a common quality: They accept the client without conditions. Unconditional
acceptance can be startling and transformative, because the problem is not
what the client usually thinks it is. The real problem is that the client
is not self-accepting, often not even having any concept of self-acceptance.
Through the therapist, the client learns how to accept him- or herself,
outgrowing negative patterns.
During therapy, blocks are uncovered and loosened
up, and the client becomes aware of self-limiting tendencies. This happens
primarily because of the therapist’s attitude of acceptance, not because
of incredible insights or wonderfully effective techniques. The therapeutic
use of acceptance can be understood and applied only by one who has mastered
self-acceptance on a deep level; it is fallacious to assume that one who
is not whole within could ever provide this kind of healing for another.
A successful outcome to therapy is achieved when the client no longer needs
the supportive energy of the therapist but can provide support through self-acceptance.
The client has not become a perfect human being but is now self-sustaining,
able to provide nurturing and healing from within.