A Willingness to be Present
I am asked on a regular basis what is the key to a good therapeutic relationship. My response is always “a willingness to be present”. The many in the public hand the idea the psychotherapy is about looking into the past. Yes, there are times when exploring the past is useful for therapeutic change. However, if all we do is focus on the past we will not live or be in the here and now.
Of course, this concept is not new. The founder of Gestalt Psychotherapy Fritz Perl’s said “To be present now is to unite our attention and our consciousness.” I can think of no better way of describing what a good therapeutic outcome would be. It is natural to that there are time when we all wallow in the past. We think about what we “could” or “should” have done rather than focusing how we can be right now.
It is essential that when we explore the past with our clients, we are doing so not to engage in a fishing expedition, but rather to be looking at behaviours in the past we want to replicate in the present. Or, alternatively, look to learn from past experiences which we can equate into our lives in the here and now.