Some of the most common reasons for people seeking psychological help are depression, anxiety and anger. Indeed people come to therapy wanting help to control and manage their emotions. No wonder our emotional lives are a key feature of therapy! In therapy we tend to start from the inside out rather than the outside in - to treat the underlying cause rather than the symptom. Thus we are firstly interested in understanding to origins of the emotional disturbance.
In many people's upbringing some emotions were valued and some were not. While some families valued fun and laughter but ignored and suppressed sadness others may have valued fear and worry while not tolerating any spontaneity or tenderness. Thus many people come to psychotherapy with an emotional mindscape where one or more basic emotion has been repressed, distorted or shamed.
Indeed most people have developed ingenious ways of managing unwelcome emotions. Much of this goes on below the level of conscious awareness. For example one common solution is to suppress all emotional responsiveness. Another is to cover over one emotion with another such as covering over sadness with anger. Unfortunately these defences can come at a large cost to ourselves and our relationships and can lead to depression, anxiety, relationship issues etc.
For many the prospect of facing long buried feelings is understandably terrifying. The trouble is that suppressed emotions can come out all wrong when they are first expressed. Yet most people in their heart of hearts know what needs to be faced and have a fair idea of challenges that this will pose to them. They want to be able to understand their emotions and learn how to express them constructively and effectively without humiliation or damaging to their personal, family or professional relationships.
The therapeutic setting is an opportunity to explore and express your emotional life in a safe environment where you will be accepted and not judged or shamed. This may be difficult at first but gradually new and creative ways of handling and expressing difficult emotions can be discovered. Over time and practice this will contribute to feeling free, positive, authentic and generally better about yourself while enhancing your relationships.