Having reviewed the dynamic/stage of Co-journey with a specific focus upon the therapeutic alliance, we can now dig in to some of the “nitty-gritty” of the therapeutic process itself.
Once the Counselor/Therapist and Client/Patient have taken some time to get acquainted and to have decided upon a plan to Co-journey together, the Client/Patient is invited to begin a process of open communication, while the Counselor/Therapist focuses upon a very special kind of listening.
The “open communication” can take on various forms based upon the approach of the Counselor/Therapist as well as the unique personality styles of the Client/Patient. For example, in a purely psychoanalytic setting the Patient is taught a particular method known as “free association,” where anything that comes to mind is simply spoken without any kind of filtering. Other methodologies may choose a more structured approach to the dialogue where the discussions are focused and perhaps even guided at times. My own integrated approach is, of course, a balanced blend of these methodologies.
The “special kind of listening” mentioned above tends to be less diverse between different therapeutic orientations, and tends to be a refined skill that most Counselors/Therapists develop and perfect over years of practice. It is a kind of listening that can hear what lies behind words, and can sense what is truly seeking to be communicated. We might use words like intuitive, empathic, and analytic to describe its way of fostering therapeutic dynamics such as our current topic of discussion, which is the dynamic/stage known as Release.
Release is known in classical psychological terms as “catharsis,” a mechanical term that refers to the reduction of pressure as in the opening of a relief valve. I personally chose the term Release because I feel it captures the essence of the early stage of the therapeutic process where the Client/Patient has finally found the place and has been given the opportunity to open the relief valve and begin releasing all that has been pent-up for so long (often an entire lifetime).
This process itself possesses a great deal of healing potential in that it allows for the freeing of thoughts and emotions that have not been permitted to have been realized and/or expressed. I have seen many situations in which this freeing itself fostered a rather dramatic improvement in a Client/Patient’s condition. However, modern psychotherapy is capable of much more than this in that there is more that we can do with that which is released.
Essentially, what is taking place during release could also be termed externalization, which for our purposes refers to the idea that what has been released has been taken from the unknown (or unrecognized) interior to the known exterior. This then affords the opportunity to do something with that material, and do something we do!
The door now opens to the subsequent dynamics/stages where healing continues to happen. However, before continuing on, we may wish to discuss some additional nuances of Release. Hence, I invite you to “tune-in” next time where I will discuss how we can incorporate Release as an actual intervention within our daily lives that can allow us to live more openly and freely.