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  • Tom Dunsdon

How the past can be brought to the present in therapy

Hi guys and welcome to my latest post, its been a busy few weeks over the Christmas and new year period and I have now started working with a cancer support organisation weekly, so this post is bit later than normal as I have been concentrating on that for the last few weeks. This post is going to concentrate on why and how our past can affect our here and now and how this can be worked on in therapy. So without further a do, on with the blog........


In some circumstances it may well be that the client will present and be fully aware of what in their past is causing them issues today, however it is also very common for the client not to have made that link to their past and therefore not be aware that this is where the problem is stemming from. For those clients that believe they understand where their issue is coming from, then it is the role of the therapist to explore this issue with their client and this can begin as soon as good rapport has been established. It is important to point out that this process itself will add in the building of the therapeutic relationship and building of rapport.

For those clients that do not realise the origin of their issues, it is the role of the therapist to help the client uncover these past events and link them to the problems they are experiencing in the here and now. This can be done with open questions and asking the client to elaborate on certain areas and ideas that they have mentioned. It is vital that this is done very carefully by the therapist using all of their skills and knowledge to help the client as this kind of revelation or “light bulb” moment can be very challenging for the client and may well require a lot of exploration and work on their part and it is vital that the therapist has the required skills and understanding of their principals to be able to help the client work though these issues. Sometimes it is important for the therapist to notice what isn’t said just as much as what is, for example the client may well spend a large amount of the session talking about their mother and not mentioning their father, this could be because there is no issue with their father or it could be that actually this is the main issue and the client is actively or sub-consciously avoiding it. With this aspect of therapy, it is important that the therapist uses their intuition to help guide them to the parts of their past that the client needs to work with. When working with a client’s past life events, it is imperative that the therapist gains an understanding of how the client relates to those past events, for example the client could feel trapped and weighed down by these past events or they could display a ‘what is done is done’ attitude and want to move on. The therapist should be able to judge their clients relationship with the past by noticing how they talk about themselves and how their body language is whilst doing so. In some circumstances an event from the past can be the main reason a client has come to therapy and it may be that many sessions are taken up by a single event, it is important to remember that an event in an individuals past may be very significant for them but to another individual a similar event may seem insignificant. This is one of the reasons why there is no 'one size fits all' solution to therapy and in my opinion, at its very core one-on-one therapy is as much an art form as it is a science. To finish this short post, I will say that it is a common statement used a lot today on various platforms that we are all shaped but our past and it is these events which make us who we are today, however I would like to make a slight alteration to that statement, I would say this "it is how we use and interpret the events in our lives that shape who we are, if these events are having a negative impact on our present, then it is here that therapy of any kind can help make us who we want to be".

All that's left for me to say is thanks for reading my blog and I hope you all have an excellent week. As always an feedback, good or bad please let me know and any suggestions for future posts, please get in touch.

Thanks,

Tom





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