Before Facebook, Twitter and other social media made their mark on society, people were usually shy about sharing the details of their private lives. Now it seems to be a bit easier to address some difficulties, and to consider yourself perfectly proper for doing so. Many public campaigns for ending various forms of suffering have made therapy an easy, pleasant choice.
Confiding in a therapist involves a focus on some basic vocabulary terms. We can look at a few of them alphabetically:
- Confidence is matter of trust, the situation when you can rely on someone for fulfilling specific needs, or on something to meet your needs. Confidentiality is a matter of honoring secrets or private information by not repeating them to other people.
- Intimacy is a level of closeness, a relationship exclusive to specific people with whom you share love and pleasure. Marriages are supposed to be intimate, as they involve sexual exclusivity, thoughts and activities limited to the spouses. Friendships, the dynamics between family members such as siblings and extended relatives and even employment situations can be emotionally and/or intellectually intimate when appropriate, e.g., colleagues share ideas unique to their mindsets and the tasks at hand.
- Privacy is when you’re in a situation of not being distressed or intruded upon by others. You are left to yourself to do as you wish.
Now for the Five Ways Therapists Help Improve Intimacy:
- Therapists can help to improve intimacy by helping you to consider the effects of past experiences and behaviors and in identifying better ones. Together you can zero in on the experiences and behaviors which helped you, and prevent future involvement in behaviors that hurt you. Both can be hard to identify, so a therapist’s objectivity can help in startling, refreshing ways. That leads to better experiences and a happier life.
- Therapists can also help you to set priorities such as designating a specific time each week as “Date Time” with your spouse. That technique is known to enhance marital happiness.
- A basic principle of intimacy is effective and enduring communication. Therapists can guide you into how to be an effective communicator. One example is teaching awareness. A spouse who remarks “That’s it, huh?” has not clearly indicated to their other half that merely flushing a toilet or wiping a kitchen counter is the end of sharing household work. Specificity is called for, such as saying “Please clean up the floor, the sink and everything dirtied by your cooking efforts,” “Don’t do X, because…” or “Please take the trash to the curb tonight.” Therapists can also explain why sarcasm and cynicism sabotage relationships.
- Therapists can clarify the need to behave politely even if you want to use all kinds of nasty vocabulary on the other person in your otherwise intimate life. By the way, a therapist can also explain why ignoring someone can wreck a relationship no matter with whom you share it.
- Therapists can help you to develop respect for specific boundaries. In today’s digital world, the concepts above tend to become blurred. Users might not quite understand their meaning or importance. Therapists can’t help much in such cases.
Clients need to respect the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship and intimate relationships. The boundaries include 1) the refusal to repeat what has been discussed during a therapeutic session or therapeutically intimate moment (gossiping with friends or relatives, let alone on social media, can undermine everything), 2) honoring the relationship between client and therapist with mutual respect, and 3) remaining focused on the matters to be resolved rather than pushing limits or failing to make honest efforts.
Blasting your problems online or even face to face can ruin, and probably end, your chances for personal improvement and intimacy. Other people will be free to abuse your vulnerabilities. And, some people will lose respect for your lack of restraint. Respect the limits and you improve the chances for therapeutic success plus your level of intimacy.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.