A depth psychotherapist can facilitate a special type of questioning. I don’t mean the easily answered questions like, “What do you do for work?” but open-ended questions designed to offer an invitation to the depths within the self and toward the unconscious.
Depth Psychotherapy is authentic.
I may not be able answer all questions. This can cause confusion among people new to this type of therapy. Our sessions don’t follow the socially acceptable trajectory of “Ask a question, answer the question.” That’s because the therapeutic relationship is unique. It doesn’t follow “normal” rules. I’ve personally never been too big a fan of ordinary anyway. It’s confining.
In psychoanalytically informed work, social norms are not present in the consulting room. If you had lunch with someone who wouldn’t answer questions but instead reflected feelings and provided interpretations around your relationship with your mother regarding how you relate to food, it would be just plain weird, intrusive, and potentially intriguingly off-putting!
As shown in the above example, the questions may be more difficult than what an individual is used to outside therapy. A pat answer like, “I’m fine,” in response to, “How are you?” doesn’t cut it in the consulting room. We’re aiming for depth and authenticity, which may urge you to step outside your comfort zone and even feel uncomfortable sometimes. I may ask questions with the intention of creating tension. Tension is a good word for the consulting room. It can be very productive.
Learn to sit with the Possibility
My patients are encouraged to ask questions that encourage them to be open to possibilities and not to fixate on a single answer. It can feel uncomfortable to be in an uncertain space, particularly if there is tension between two opposites, or two choices. However, it is worth learning how to hold that tension and not try to solve it. You might find something that happens in that space. You may feel something bubbling up within, or call it intuition, but it is possible for something to rise to the surface. Something deep and wise, something primordial and heretofore hidden. What allowed that “something else” to bubble up was getting quiet enough for that part to speak.
Explore Your Interior Landscape
This requires the presence of a skilled depth therapist who can help the patient navigate their inner terrain. The psychotherapist asks the patient questions, expresses curiosity and gently digs into their inner landscape to encourage them to look inward. There are many gems in the internal landscape. This process is not quick and cannot be rushed. It takes a lot of investment in yourself. Slow and steady wins the race, just like the tortoise.
The tortoise is a good example of how the process can be rewarding. It won’t be like a race because the finish line is not demarcated, nor is there anyone to compete with, but what’s waiting for you on the other end is just as deserving of awards, medals, and a cheering crowd of bystanders. It may bring you to a dark place in your soul, but it may also help you become a more authentic and integrated version of yourself. Asking open-ended, honest questions will help you access the deepest parts of your being.
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