It has been clear for some time that childhood experiences become part of a child's neurological physiology and over time, through re-enforcement and repetition form aspects of its personality structure. The task of recovery is to stop the process of repetition and re-enforcement of the unwanted beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours and to encourage new, positive ways of being in this world. Thus new neuro-pathways need to be created (if you remember that has to happen through experience!!) or if they exist but are just faint connections they have to be strengthened through more and regular traffic. At the same time it has to be avoided to go down the familiar path of neuro-connections that are negative and unhelpful so that they wither away.

To build new, positive connections we need to create a situation that mimics to some extend the situation between parent and child. This can take place is by engaging with a therapist who is able to create positive, supportive, and therapeutic experiences. As the client musters the courage to talk about the hurt, the pain, and the victories, the therapist will focus intently and intensively on what is missing and what is needed, will be predictable, reliable, understanding, supportive, encouraging, clarifying, and accepting the client.

He or she will be there when you get distressed while you talk about the things that stressed you in the past, and will assist you in getting through this distress. In doing so, you will acquire regulation skills and distress tolerance. You will be validated and things will be put in perspective for you. Your negative beliefs about you will be challenged and you will start seeing yourself in a different light.

These are the most important aspects that make talking therapies work by creating new, positive neuro pathways. So the relationship you develop with the therapist holds the key to healing and recovery. While you explore in your sessions the things that most hinder you like saying NO to people, getting close to others, speaking your mind, meeting new people, abstaining from drugs or alcohol, you will be guided to learn skills that help you to be more assertive, be more direct, be more open, be less afraid ... and so forth.

As your confidence grows you'll find that you are less shy and more able to stretch out of your comfort zone. The more you trust your therapist that she/he knows what she/he is doing, the more you will become willing and able to try out things that used to be scary or didn't feel right.

It doesn't really matter what kind of methods are used by the therapist you work with. Well, it matters that you are comfortable with the methods. In general, all that matters is the relationship as described above. Because, in a way, you are forming a new SELF, a you that knows deep in your heart that you are OK, that you deserve to be treated well, and that you are able to insure people do treat you with consideration, respect, and appreciation.

While you can learn about things from a book, you can not build a stronger SELF through a book or get it from a pill. The development of the self is an interactive process between two people who give recognition to each other. You only know who you are when you see yourself through the eyes of another person that is important to you. If that person appreciates you, you feel good. If that person is nasty to you, you feel distressed.

Do you need to go to a therapist to have such an experience? Not necessarily. But not many people have someone in their lives who is willing - for an extended length of time - to focus exclusively on your needs so that you can develop the neuro-pathways needed to be happy and content with your life.

Author's Bio: 

Gudrun Frerichs, PhD is the director and founder of Psychological Resolutions Ltd. Visit her website for information about counselling, coaching, psychotherapy, and training courses for professional and personal development. You will find relationship solutions through advanced communication skills. Instead of learning "communication by numbers" you will be taken on a step by step journey to emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, understanding others, and managing others).

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