The experience of being deeply understood by another person is in itself transformational.
The prisoner cannot free himself from the prison.” The Talmud
It is almost impossible to free ourselves from our own emotional prisons. We need someone else to unlock the door. We cannot do it entirely by ourselves. Why is this so? The reason is that in most cases, the loss of emotional well-being was caused by bad relational experiences in our past. Therefore, emotional well-being can only be achieved through good relational experiences in our present.
The most unique aspect of the therapeutic relationship, which is unlike any other relationship, is that it provides a sustained experience of being understood. I’m sure most of us have had moments in our lives when we felt someone really “got us.” Such moments leave us feeling lighter, stronger, happier, more peaceful and above all, more alive. This is the transforming power of being understood.
Unfortunately, a few moments of being understood is not enough to promote deep and lasting personal change. To promote permanent change, we need a sustained experience of being understood. Dr. Carl Rogers describes this unique experience from the therapist’s perspective when he writes:
Can I let myself enter fully into the world of his feelings and personal meanings and see these as he does? Can I step into his private world so completely that I lose all desire to evaluate or judge it? Can I enter it so sensitively that I can move about in it freely, without trampling on meanings which are so precious to him? Can I sense it so accurately that I can catch not only the meanings of his experience which are obvious to him, but those meanings which are only implicit, which he sees only dimly or as confusion? Can I extend his understanding without limit?
As a therapist, my goal is to help you understand your feelings. Within the context of this type of relational experience, something wonderful can happen. You can begin to make sense of yourself and your life in a radical new way and weave this new clarity into the deepest fabric of your being. When that happens, exciting new worlds of possibility can open up; opportunities that you never knew existed. As your emotional world expands, you may begin to discover new more enriching ways of living. This is why the therapeutic relationship can be so utterly transformational in a way that relationships with friends and family cannot, because in the final analysis, it is not love that transforms lives, as many people believe, but rather an experience of sustained understanding.