We all know the pain of sharing a secret with whom we hoped was a trusted listener, only to be violated when our secret is shared without our permission. This is one reason why people stop talking about their inner thoughts and feelings, and choose to carry them alone. When we carry too many secrets we can become vulnerable to depression, guilt, loneliness and poor self-esteem.
There are many kinds of secrets people carry. We may carry secrets of what we are ashamed of and feel guilty about. There are secrets about what we feel no one will understand about us. We may carry secrets about identity, whether that be about gender, our economic and social situation, or even our ethnic background. We may also have secrets that are mysterious--thoughts, dreams or day dreams that seem to come from outside of us. They may possibly be religious experiences. The list goes on.
In a world where personal space has been radically redefined by Social Media, one of the treasures of entering therapy is to have a safe person and safe place to open up and talk deeply about what we cannot talk about anywhere else. I have been on both sides of the "chair" when it comes to sharing secrets. I know what it is like to finally be heard, and what it is like to hear from others what they have not spoken in a long time or ever. It is a treasured gift to be heard and not be judged--to finally have another soul to look at, wonder about and dialogue about that which has not been heard in a long time if ever.
I recently had a client say with a smile, upon entering the office," I have now entered the sanctuary". For her this meant now she can release the tension that held in her true self and her most personal secrets, and bring them out before herself and me. Together we did the careful and reverent work of fitting a few more pieces of her life experiences and inner world together.
There are many good theories, and techniques that help in doing psychotherapy, and for these I am grateful. Often, I am aware that holding safe space and a safe relationship is one of the bedrocks of what we as therapists have to offer.
Originally posted: February 12th, 2020