“On the couch”: The magical journey of psychotherapy from the perspective of therapist and patient

If we met the great lawyer James Clarkson Smith at a social event, then we would probably be impressed by his confidence, his culture and his elegant manners. So what was it that once pushed him to nervously ring the bell of psychotherapist Patricia Phillips and why did his decision to visit her prove to be the catalyst for the evolution of his life?

In the sanctuaries of psychotherapeutic sessions

Philippa Perry’s book “On the couch – the story of a cure” invites us to a magical journey into the sanctuaries of psychotherapy. The highly illustrated history of one-year sessions introduces us to the world of the therapist and the patient, two worlds that when met lead to a strong alliance, capable of substantial revisions and admirable shifts.

The initial request of the patient

James Clarkson Smith seems to have it all. However, his addiction to kleptomania brings him to the psychotherapist’s couch. And his initial request may be to get rid of a symptom that causes him guilt and hurts his reputation, but the first real bet he will be asked to win is to identify the root causes of his dysfunctional behavior.

Survival strategies that evolved into strategies of self-destruction

We watch step by step the hesitations of the patient to be revealed, his reluctance to abandon the defense mechanisms and to penetrate into the bowels of his soul.
And we are gradually realizing our own shadows, those that were our survival strategies when we were children but now work subversively for our adult lives.

What do they serve us beyond the sense of intimacy provided by the repetition of their familiar pattern and how do we manage to get rid of the pain by daring to dive into the unknown?

Unlocking the trunk of the past

We now identify with the hero of the book, we sympathize with him and we are more and more anxious for his evolution: Will he be able to be freed from his personal labyrinth? If he succeeds, then that will mean hope for each of us.

When the myth of the ideal childhood collapses, the patient is called to unlock the trunk of the past, to confront his frustrated desires and to tame his dragons.

And it does! Gradually, James Clarkson Smith gets rid of kleptomania and realizes that his difficulty in expressing emotions stems from the unresolved issues of his relationship with his parents.

And then the essential healing begins: The hero of the book decides to take responsibility for his existence, making substantial progress in all areas of his life and laying the foundations of his happiness.

In the mind of the psychotherapist

Of great interest are the psychotherapist’s reactions, hidden thoughts, conjectures and techniques in her attempt to push James to discover his truth, to understand and accept his traumas, to adopt alternative and more functional behaviors.

During the sessions there are times when Patricia Phillips acts impulsively, making inappropriate interventions. After all, the therapist is not perfect, and Philippa Perry makes sure to point this out at several points in her book.

But it needs to remain authentic and have virtues such as empathy and understanding in order to inspire confidence and security. After all, the success of the healing process lies in the expectations and hope of the patient for change but also in the quality of the relationship that he enters into with the therapist.

The end of treatment and the beginning of a new life

The end of the sessions leaves us with a bittersweet taste: Patricia accompanied James on his voyage but now the ship has arrived at the port and she has to leave. We too are saddened by the separation but at the same time overwhelmed by an optimism for man’s inexhaustible courage to turn his destiny upside down, achieving radical and permanent changes.

The book is a graphic novel with a hard cover by Dioptra Publications that fascinates us with its sleek language, pleasant rhythm, direct style and exceptional honesty. Author Philippa Perry does not idealize the role of the psychotherapist and does not present psychotherapy as a miracle pill that will automatically solve our problems. Instead, it records the moving and painful adventure of a healer and a healer on the road to discovering the truth and conveys to us the feeling of redemption that comes from returning to the authentic self.


Source: Εναλλακτική Δράση by enallaktikidrasi.com.

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