What secret sides of human nature do therapists see that non-therapists would be surprised about?

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Human nature is a space that reflects dynamism. It consists of an amalgamation of several aspects but specifically a combination of thoughts, emotions, and behavior that present itself in each and every moment of life. This interplay between thoughts, emotions, and behavior creates phenomena that we either experience or observe others experience.

Although most of us are capable of seeing these phenomena play out, there is a difference in what and how much a trained eye can pick up as compared to a non - trained eye. As Psychotherapists, there are some interesting observations that one may come across in the process of therapy. A therapist is trained not to judge a person but can have certain scientific judgements about the person’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions. So a therapist may not judge you but can analyze your thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

As one may wear layers of clothes to protect oneself from the elements, similarly a person may unknowingly have layers of defenses that make the person feel protected from distress. A therapist is probably if not always able to identify these layers. The therapist can then help the person get familiar with these layers and facilitate the process of shedding them one by one.

A common occurrence during therapy is that the client will share the problem that they are experiencing, for example: “I am feeling low”. As the exploration furthers, it may reach a point where the person is finding it difficult to explain and may use statements like “I don’t know” or may change the problem itself. This may seem like a dead-end but a therapist would know otherwise. This point is a critical point in the exploration as the therapist is aware that the person is trying to dodge something, something that may be contributing to the distress. Here the therapist with their skills and training can navigate the exploration in a direction that reveals the distress point to both the client and the therapist. Once identified, the distress can be dealt with. A perspective that people tend to be caught up with knowingly and unknowingly is the dichotomous perspective of correct and incorrect. Most people are trying to view thoughts and opinions as either correct or incorrect. Although this perspective may provide some context to the thoughts, there is a possibility that one may use this dichotomy in all aspects of life which may have a detrimental impact in which a blaming and shaming process may occur.

A therapist is able to recognize and look beyond this dichotomy and understand the contributing factors to a thought and a behavior, thus viewing the entire phenomenon from an empathetic perspective rather than a blaming and shaming perspective.

You may know your problem and you may think of external factors contributing to the problem but your therapist although not completely familiar with your problem definitely knows that the contributing factors most likely are internal rather than external. The therapist can help you in understanding and identifying the internal factors and in a way help you take control of the process of dealing with your problem.

Most of the time the problem is not the one that the person is mentioning but something that is making the problem seem like a problem. So although one may be able to see things at face value there is a lot going on in the backstage that only a therapist would be able to pick up on. It is like a play on stage. The audience can see the actors performing on stage with their dialogues and acting but not everyone can see the process of narration unfold and the contributing factors to that process. Only someone who has the knowledge, expertise, and experience of creating and managing live stage events and plays will understand the intricacies of the show that is put up. When one is sharing their distress, they may view the distress as a problem. A therapist may view the same distress in a different light. The distress clearly reflects a person’s value system, something that the person wants to change or a particular light that the person wants to be seen in. For example: A person who gets very anxious about having to manage tasks or responsibilities may seem like having a problem of anxiety but it may also reflect the person’s value system of wanting to put forth their best foot forward and be their helpful best towards others.
Last but not the least, most people come to therapy to seek solutions to their problems and the therapist sees the person expecting the solution to be ready with the therapist. Surprisingly, the therapist can see through the mere action of the person coming to therapy that the solution already lies with the person and not so much with the therapist. The act of seeking help is actually the act of choosing to help oneself.
Human nature with all its possible complexities needs but only a simple trained eye to observe the beauty that it is and can be.

If you feel you are in the need of therapists, seek help immediately or visit the nearest mental health clinic for a mental health therapy session or have a 1 on 1 chat with the therapists.

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Vikram Kirtikar
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