New Year’s Interview for Warsaw Insider
Warsaw Insider: For people who aren’t quite sure what a psychotherapist does, tell us about it.
Me: Psychotherapy is a profession – in Poland acquired through post-graduate studies – of helping, assisting people to come to a better sense of well-being, and sustainable solutions to their life struggles and conflicts. Its scope is not limited to treating mental disorders – it is successfully applied to areas such as relational difficulties, work related challenges or creativity. There are many diverse methods of psychotherapy.
What are the most common issues people come to you to try and resolve?
The issues vary widely and often transform throughout the course of therapy. Beneath most of them there is a yearning for fuller life, for a better relationship with oneself; in particular people deal with conflicts, self-criticism, addictive tendencies, sexual difficulties, anxieties, extreme experiences from the past or present, depression… The list is quite long.
January can be a difficult time of year. Christmas is over, many people are away from their families again, especially if they’re living abroad, they might have money issues and be feeling over tired. What’s your advice for people who are feeling down at this time of year?
There are great many reasons to feel down in January and sometimes you need more than a mug of hot chocolate to cheer you up! There may be disappointments, lack of energy to go on, frustrations and questions to be answered again.
My advice would be to experiment with what this “down” feeling actually is. What does this calendar cycle bring up? Even though a lot of people tend to agree that this time is less favorable, the exact experience of feeling “down” is often very personal and meaningful.
You deal with people who have addictions such as substance abuse and alcohol problems. Is it more common that people seek help at the start of the year when they feel they can make a new beginning?
I haven’t really noticed this kind of regularity. A lot of people who by themselves decide to seek professional help, either addiction therapy or psychotherapy, are very motivated. But the commitments emerging out of “new beginnings” alone don’t seem to be enough to last. In important issues, such as addictions, it isn’t really possible to erase the past and just start fresh with January 1st. One needs to acknowledge the importance of one’s past experiences in order to deal with the problem in a sustainable way.
As well as individual therapy you also work with couples who might be having relationship problems. How does it work and why is it beneficial?
Myself and Agnieszka Serafin work with many couples. A lot of them come to a limit in what they can do as individuals in their relationship and as the relationship as a whole. They either “get stuck” or “run in circles”, face similar recurring unsolved challenges or chronic conflicts. It can be very frustrating and hurtful.
Having more understanding of what is really going on, about the actual feelings and needs is the start, and is non-trivial. In some cases it turns out this understanding is enough for the couple to move forward themselves.
What many of our clients find useful is using the potential that is already present in a given relationship situation, instead of reaching for normative goals. People have a lot more resources then they think they have. But using them, and then using them in their relationships usually needs learning.
For many couples psychotherapy is a novel approach and something that can transform their seemingly fixed situation or repetitive patterns.