After a long period of feeling unsettled, angry and alone even with people around me and having found that alcohol; no longer ‘took the edge off things’, I had what I thought was a mild ‘crisis’. A good friend recommended that I go to see Rizwana. This was based on his own use of her counselling/psychotherapy service and his confidence that it would no doubt help me.
Looking back, because very little made sense at the time, my first fear before meeting Riz was that she would REJECT ME! as being a hopeless proposition as I was already in my late sixties. I barely remember the detail of our first meeting, but I did have an almost instantaneous feeling that I could trust her and have confidence in her expertise and abilities.
I left feeling somewhat calmer and with some hope. Those early meetings allowed me first to pour out my feelings and highlight experiences, recent and distant, that were important for various reasons. Rizwana listened without any evident judgement but with huge concentration, engaging in probing questions, and allowed for responses that, I realise now, were based on my anger, shame and fear. Expressing them was vital, but so too were the signals back that unconditional positive regard is not and should not be the same as unconditional approval.
I increasingly had confidence that Rizwana had proper control of the process and that I was in good hands. She provided explanations of my symptoms and a sense they could gradually be addressed. She also gave me reading to do, which, again, in retrospect, I realise, was appropriate to my condition at the time and part of the ongoing process. I also felt that this willingness to bring in the ideas and beliefs of key contributors to psychotherapy whilst retaining the overall professional relationship added to the strength of our collaboration together. Therefore, I felt that bringing thoughts and ideas to the meeting was welcomed and used. I also began to feel that this was a kind of partnership but with boundaries properly clear.
I started to to get a sense of progress being made, even when that did take me out of my comfort zone and that they were part of a plan to deal with my symptoms and behaviours but that the plan was flexible as appropriate. When I had doubts about my abilities and progress based on real communication and my reporting of a change in real-life events outside, encouragement was also extremely important. Looking back too, I thought this would be a quick fix, but I have come to realise through the various phases of my treatment that getting at deeply held and buried feelings requires effort and the insight and the experience of a good therapist.
A key concept in my treatment was examining the role and power of the ‘critical parent’. Along the way, I feel that I can recognise this ‘demon’ and deny it the power it had – distorting my view of myself and my perceptions of the people around me. This long, demanding, but ultimately satisfying journey has not entirely removed this demon but I can manage it so much better. Still, the insights and processes make me feel confident that I can recognise when it rears its ugly head and face it with the more positive and realistic views of myself and significant others' views. To deal with these challenges, I have the tools of the therapeutic process I built on something deeper and more anchored than I could ever imagine. I feel substantially better as a result of this and so do my family and friends