These questions are ways to assess the frequency of presenting symptoms (e.g., feeling sad, lacking energy, discomfort in social situations). The symptoms are what bring people to therapy. However, the cure for symptoms is examining the root causes. Getting to the root of a problem is complex, and it's the reason why it's difficult to answer, "How long is this going to take?" In my work, successful therapy is defined by attaining 3 goals.
Increased awareness of the self.
Before making real changes in your life, you have to better understand what changes need to happen. Part of that process is better understanding you. Everyone has their own behavioral patterns, relationship tendencies, stress management preferences, and a style in relating to others. Therapy helps the person gain insight into personal patterns.
Increased awareness of the other.
It's great to know why you do the things that you do, but life doesn't exist in a vacuum. Your behavior has an impact on others. The next step after increasing awareness of your behavior is making the connection to how your actions affect others. I'm talking about empathy again. I've written extensively about empathy, read a more detailed description here.
Seems natural. Gain awareness of yourself and others and you'll be good to go with relationships. Right? Not necessarily. Relationships are Gestalt-like, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Understanding relationships is more than understanding yourself and the other. Relationships are a source for psychological well-being. Unhealthy relationships are usually associated with increased stress and psychological problems, whereas those with healthy relationships tend to be happier and more confident. For a more in depth read on relationships, click here.
Increased awareness will inevitably lead to a decrease in presenting symptoms, which is what most people want. However, increased awareness leads to a fundamental change in our core self, which is what most people need.
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