The therapeutic process

    There are some fundamental truths in life:
    there is no point fretting about the past because you can not change it;
    worrying about the future is equally fruitless because it has not arrived; live
    each moment as your last because being here now is the only constant; and you
    cannot love anyone else if you do not love yourself.

    Most of us can acknowledge these things to
    be true. However, putting them into practise is a different matter. In the ‘80s
    it seemed that everyone was in “therapy” and in some ways the word almost
    became devalued. But psychotherapy, where a relationship is built up between a
    client and a trained therapist using different, therapeutic techniques can be
    of great help for those who find it difficult to achieve their potential and
    lead fulfilling lives for various reasons or need help through difficult phases
    of their life .

    Richard Singer, a  psychotherapist and author, recently joined
    the staff at the Da Vinci Centre. Singer’s background equips him well for his
    role as psychotherapist. A recovering alcoholic, his epiphany came over 11
    years ago when he awoke to a dark dawn of the soul after yet another binge and
    realised his life was totally out of control.

    “I was beat up, jobless, penniless, and I
    had just called my mother for help and she said she wanted nothing to do with
    me. This was her way of helping me to realise I needed help desperately,” he
    said. “My heart sunk and I contemplated suicide once again. At this point I had
    two options available to me: surrender to this disease —  as was being suggested by the treatment
    professionals — and begin recovery, or end my life.”

    He chose recovery and it was the beginning
    of a personal journey of discovery that would lead him to study clinical
    psychology and to work with people in the field of addictions, he then moved
    onto psychotherapy.

    Since then his goal has been to help other
    people live a better and fuller life through. Meeting and talking to him, it is
    easy to see how clients would trust him. He has the gentleness that certain,
    big men have, and he encourages you to be completely honest both with him and
    ultimately, with yourself. I have never been shy of a bit of amateur
    psychoanalysis, but what struck me about my talk with Rick was that though I
    knew these things intellectually, he subtly managed to get under that and hit
    emotions that I thought were well buried.

    Singer says that there are many definitions
    of psychotherapy, but that for him it is somewhat simple. “To me, it’s a human
    relationship between two beings working toward personal growth goals. You build
    a strong relationship built on trust and then take it from there.”

    However, like any relationship between two
    people it can get complex, and for Singer as the therapist there are criteria
    that need to be established to make the relationship a success. To start, it
    has to be based on honesty and requires commitment and dedication between both
    individuals.

    Asking Singer why therapy is different from
    just talking over your problems with  a
    friend over a bottle of wine, he replies, “There is a big difference. I am not
    going to judge and I am not going to be biased.” He also points out a major
    difference between talking to him and talking with a friend: “I have knowledge
    of the psychotherapy process”.

    Singer’s approach to psychotherapy is
    humanistic — he does not set himself up to be superior in any way or some sort
    of “perfect” human being.

    “My whole approach to life is down to
    earth. There’s probably not any right answers and every human being is confused
    about life.” He sees the therapeutic journey as one of growth between two human
    beings and that life itself is a journey of continuous growth. Again, these
    thoughts are wonderfully inspiring but how can psychotherapy help one achieve
    this?

    Singer uses various techniques, which he
    will decide on as he moves through a relationship with a client, depending on
    their particular issues: for instance, cognitive behaviour therapy, which is
    about changing your inner thoughts since they can affect your behaviour. We
    think something irrational, then it affects our emotions and our behaviour. The
    key is to change how you think, and then change emotions and behaviour.

    He believes profoundly is that we all need
    to live in the moment, as no-one is promised tomorrow. To live in the now is
    not an easy practise, but Singer suggests using the five senses to help keep
    you in the present. Touching things or smelling them or listening more
    attentively will bring you back to the here and now. His philosophy is also
    spiritual — we allow our ego into the driving seat too often and the “dominant
    ego incessantly tries to persuade us that life needs to be complex.”

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