When it comes to helping people improve their mental health, many therapists are trained to keep a certain distance between themselves and those they are working with. They are told to maintain an emotional barrier and work hard to never cross it.
This approach is important for keeping strong boundaries when people need them. However, oftentimes when therapists suppress the feelings that arise in the therapy, they miss out on major opportunities to address the root causes of the persistent emotional struggles.
Overcoming Emotional Struggles Requires the Use of Emotions
It turns out that going on an emotional journey with people who are struggling can provide a turning point in helping them overcome their emotional troubles or mental illness.
This emotional journey can be fascinating, challenging, and incredibly fulfilling.
Psychoanalytic therapists help others by recognizing and learning to tolerate their unconscious thoughts and feelings – the ones people don’t want to face because they hurt so much – the ones they’ve been protecting themselves from for so long because the painful feelings often relate to someone meaningful in their life when they were young.
The journey is dynamic, so therapists have to have the emotional bandwidth to recognize and tolerate those feelings themselves, so the people they are helping can comfortably talk freely about anything and everything.
A Process for Recognizing Emotional Clues
When working with people on this level, the path can be challenging, because therapists must use their own emotions as clues and sometimes feel what others are struggling with – while still maintaining appropriate boundaries.
Therapists who make use of psychoanalytic training and strong clinical supervision learn to recognize emotional clues, sort them out from their own emotional issues, and tolerate all the feelings that arise in the process.
Though the process can be long, when people do safely break through to those “a-ha” moments, they are freed from emotional shackles and on the road to greater resilience and a more satisfying life.