An important aspect of psychotherapy, especially psychoanalytic and psychodynamic counselling, is a phenomenon known as transference. Put simply, this is when we 'transfer' a feeling from a situation or person in our past to a similar situation in the counselling session.
As human beings our feelings are crucial to our survival and bring meaning and richness to our lives. Fear, for example, can help keep us safe, joy in sex can ensure human reproduction, compassion can enable helping others and ourselves, and anger can give us the energy to make changes in our lives when something is not right for us.
As babies, then growing through infancy to childhood and even into adulthood strong feelings can be provoked by certain people in our lives (often Mum and Dad, and brothers and sisters), and in certain situations...
Excessive worrying is a common way that people can cope with anxious feelings, but when we worry too much it can be a bad way of handling the inevitable ups and downs of life.
10 things about worrying:
1) Worrying is a way of helping us to feel safe. It is similar to checking. In the same way we may check (and double-check) we've turned the iron off, worrying about things helps us to explore every different eventuality to see what might go wrong and how we would cope with that if it did.
2) Worrying is habit-forming. It is a way that we can learn to deal with our anxiety to help us to feel safe...it is a bad habit though.
Do you iron your socks, or even your newspaper?
Are you a perfectionist? Do you strive to ensure that everything you do is done perfectly? Is your house spotless? Do you rehearse your work presentation it for hours, even days or weeks? Do you check your emails again and again for spelling mistakes? Well perhaps your perfectionism is a cruel illusion, and that the only thing that is perfect is the cage you are creating for yourself.
Why? Well because as David Burns (2000) argues in his book 'Feeling Good' - perfect doesn't exist! If you think about it, everything that is so-called 'perfect' will have flaws if you look close enough. That spotless house may have dust on the floor behind the dishwasher, or carpet fibres that are slightly unclean. The excellent work presentation may have a couple of coughs and perhaps a questioner's raised hand wasn't spotted. The folded clothes may have a sock that wasn't ironed carefully enough, or there may be a fluff bobble on a jumper. Nothing is 100% perfect. Therefore if you insist on perfectionism, you set yourself up to fail.
In effective counselling the counsellor and client form a bond through which they together carry out the common task of the therapy - that is to help the client heal and grow. This is known as the 'working alliance'.
This working alliance plays a vital role in the therapy. The ongoing communication between the client and counsellor gives momentum and power to the therapy. Wright and Davis (1994:27) described the working alliance like this ‘…in simple terms it refers to the personal qualities of the patient, personal qualities of the therapist, and the interactions between them’.
In his classic children’s book ‘Charlotte’s Web’, E.B.White (1963) tells the story of a friendship between a spider (Charlotte) and a pig (Wilbur), and how their relationship enabled them to save Wilbur’s life and protect Charlotte’s ‘children’. However, the story also provides a useful metaphor to how a strong working alliance can help the therapy.