There are different kinds of pyschologists and psychotherapists. You’ll have a considerably different experience if you go to a cognitive-behavioural therapist and if you go to a psychoanalyst, for instance. Which one to choose? It may depend on the kind of issue you want to solve and the kind of solution you want to have. Mostly, it may depend on your style and on the quality of the connection you’ll build with the therapist. Both methods can work, as can other methods, too. But you’ll find good and bad professionals making use of any therapeutic tools, as well as professionals you like and professionals you dislike. It’s a matter of exploring and finding out. Once you do, it’s a wonderful experience.

Question: My therapist doesn’t say a word! Is he/she paying attention to what I’m saying?

I hope so. Therapists will listen to you in a technical way. They are not counsellors who’ll tell you what you do. They’ll somehow guide you in your words and thoughts, so that you can find out what is bothering you, why, and how to change it. If they think you’re doing well during the session, for example, they may be silent for you to continue.

Not all kinds of psychotherapies are like that, but for the ones that are, it is important that you open your heart and let your thoughts flow. When we’re talking to friends or even to strangers, we apply a filter to what is being said. It should not happen when you are with your therapist. You can be yourself, and it’s by allowing you to be yourself that you’ll find out what you really want and why you’re not getting there. It’s not that simple, and it probably won’t happen the first time you try to do it, because we also apply certain filters to our thoughts, to things we label as forbidden (morally forbidden, for example). Many times, the answers lie in these hidden opinions and desires — that’s why our symptoms seem so mysterious and difficult to explain.

Talking about dreams may not always be useful for a therapy, but if you want to understand psychology, a good hint is to write down your dreams, especially the intriguing ones. Write as many details as you remember. After that, think about your life and the things that are bothering you, trying to make a connection. It sometimes becomes obvious only some days — or even months — later. Trying different shoes may mean you’re trying to choose which way to follow; objects may represent people… the possibilities are infinite and there are no rules. Each brain is different. By writing and analyzing dreams, you can have an idea of why it is not easy to decode our souls, but you can also realize that it is possible and challenging.

Good luck.

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