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  • Mark Brafield

To tell my story

Therapy is where two people sit in a room. One talks and the other listens.

So how does that work ?

The therapist provides a defined space and time in which the client has the freedom to reflect on their life, where they are today and how they got there. In today's busy world, time and space can be a rare commodity.

But the therapist brings more than this. Listening without judgment or advice, she or he should not get drawn into the story but stand somewhat apart, detached. From this point of view, the therapist may see angles and patterns which the client could not see, being unable to 'see the wood for the trees'.

This combination of circumstances can combine powerfully to enable the client to come to a more truthful understanding of their life, both past and present, and in the words of the Gospel of St John, 'the truth will set you free'.

But there is something else going on; it is a crucial part of the process that the client tells the truth, and that - maybe for the first time - they say out loud what they have never dared to tell anyone else, for fear of condemnation or simple embarrassment.

And there is something about the physical process of saying something out loud that objectifies it and makes it easier to deal with. This is a technique I recommend to my clients for dealing with any sort of anxiety or irrational thought. If you say it out loud, you can start to see it for what it really is, often realising, perhaps with a chuckle, the silly tricks that anxiety plays on all of us.

Oh, and that quote of 'telling my story'. Where does that come from ? They are Hamlet's dying words. Twice in his dying speech he tells Horatio that his story must be told out loud. Shakespeare was on to something there.

More about story telling next time.

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