Consultation about relationships
"I just screwed up," Dora said again. "I'm never satisfied with myself, so how can I be happy with someone else? I always manage to ruin every relationship I get involved in. It's a character flaw and I know it. People always tell me that I think only about myself."
Dora talked about herself, her character and behavior, saying that she was bothered about her relationships with others. She was a twenty-nine years old hairdresser who had a successful partnership with an older partner. But although it was a success the business was falling apart because of repeated disputes between herself and her partner. She wanted to get married, but despite her success in attracting men, she always succeeded in pushing away all those who liked her. With her mother, who has always claimed that she was totally self-centered, she has maintained a love-hate relationship since childhood.
"I know that I'm boring you," she said when I remained silent. "You'll throw me out of here, I'm sure."
How could I help Dora? Should I investigate her relationships with her mother and her childhood traumas? Or should I offer her supervision that would help her change her behavior and learn new communication patterns? Maybe she just needed the empathy and support that would enable her to accept herself as she was and be able to love others?
I believe that the most important support is the therapeutic relationship itself. Psychotherapy is a relationship workshop that allows clients, through interaction with the therapist, to experience different ways of relating to others, without fear of failure.
(An excerpt from Dror Green, Psychotherapy: A consumer's guide)
When I think of my clients past or present, I find that almost all of them have had difficulties connected with relationships. Single clients need to cope with the difficulties of finding a partner, while married clients must cope with maintaining the relationship regarding trust, sexual relations and mutual responsibility. Parents are concerned about rapidly changing relationships with their children, and almost all of them carry with them painful memories of their relationships with their parents. Almost any topic in regard to emotional distress involves difficulties with relationships.
Psychotherapy suggests various ways of dealing with difficulties in relationships, from self-examination to couples' therapy or family therapy. Some therapists focus on the emotional process, while others suggest behavioral therapy.