Initially people come to therapy to relieve symptoms that are causing them distress, or to learn how to achieve more happiness in their relationships. Once a trusting relationship with the therapist has been established they may decide to continue with deeper exploration to enhance self-development and wellbeing.
Psychotherapy aims to develop self-reflection and insight in order to:
- Improve the ability to recognize and handle feelings. That is, to tolerate a wider range of emotional responses.
- Develop the capacity for more fulfilling relationships.
- Increase sense of identity.
- Increase realistically based self-esteem.
- Make better use of talents and abilities.
The ultimate goal is an increase in the experience of pleasure and serenity. This often leads to better physical health and greater resistance to stress.
These goals are achieved by:
- Focusing on emotional expression and how this is blocked.
- Noticing and exploring attempts to avoid distressing thoughts and feelings.
- Identification of recurring themes and patterns of relating.
- Exploring past experiences to better understand the impact of early attachments on current relationships.
- Attention to the quality of relationship with the therapist.