Useful Terms & Phrases

Agenda

In therapy it’s all about you!
The aim of the process is to help and support you.
The issues, concerns or topics that you bring to each session are known as ‘your agenda’.
A good counsellor/therapist will make sure that everything they bring to the session is in support of working on your agenda.

Inner Child

An inner-child is the combination of memories, feelings and emotional connection we have to our younger self. That younger part of us lives on inside of us forever.
We were all young once but were we treated the way in which we should have been?
Often we look back on our younger self and wish things had been different but our adult self has the ability to heal the damage. We can evaluate the experiences our younger self was exposed to. We can get in touch with that hurt part of ourselves and we can begin to treat it now, how it deserved to be treated back then. This ability to care for oneself is immensely reparative, emotionally healing and strengthening. A therapist can teach us how to connect with our inner child and support us through this transformational process.

Journalling

Do you journal? A question your therapist may well ask you and there’s a very good reason for this.
Writing down your thoughts helps you to significantly create space in your mind.
Yes, quite simply taking the information out of your head and putting it somewhere else will really make a difference.
You don’t need to be the next J.K Rowling and you don’t even need to be able to spell. You simply need a pen and a piece of paper or a mobile device with a notes app.
There is only one rule. Move the content from inside of your head to outside of your head. Yep you don’t need to structure what you write and you don’t need a fancy notebook or a crafting kit. All you have to do is record the thoughts that are swamping your mind whenever you notice them. Better still you can create a daily routine of journalling at a time that suits you (before bed for example) to help prevent a buildup.
The psychology behind this is that once you have your thoughts written down they feel much more manageable than when they are all free-floating around in your head. They become something you control opposed to something that is controlling you. You decide where they are (your head or your journal), you decide how they are stored (a list, a mindmap, a paragraph, a diary entry, a piece of creative writing, a symbol, a drawing its up to you) and then you decide how or even if you want to process them (points of reflection, topic for meditation, a discussion point for therapy or the desire to destroy them altogether by tearing them up).
Have a go, it’s private and may well help.

Mirroring

Mirroring is when the comments and actions of others are a reflection of yourself.

Take a scenario when you have a disagreement with a friend but your neighbour was present.
Later that day (your friend has gone home) you are discussing the earlier disagreement with your neighbour.
You say “my friend got so angry earlier, she was so rude.”
And your neighbour replies “really, I thought she stayed rather controlled and calm.”

You immediately think your neighbour has taken your friend’s side. When in actual fact you are both speaking your own truths.

You were angry and rude on the inside so that is how you were experiencing your friend.
Your neighbour was controlled and calm so that is how she experienced your friend.

Effectively you get back what you put out because it’s all being run through your own internal filtering system.

One of a therapist’s role is to carry out as much deliberate mirroring as possible. In showing you yourself in a safe, empathic, non-judgmental and congruent way, you are able to look at yourself and decide what you want to work on and what you are happy with.

Processing

Processing is what happens inside your mind, during the period of time you take to digest information.
Often therapists will say phrases like,
“How do you feel now that you have ‘processed’ that?” or “Perhaps you need to process that.”

This is why most therapy sessions are booked one week apart. The content you cover in a one hour therapy session, typically takes a week to ‘process’. As you mull over and over what was said, you begin to work out how that links to all of the other information and beliefs you hold.

After a few sessions you might find yourself saying things like,
“I need to go away and process that.” or “I haven’t fully processed that yet.”

Reflect

To reflect on something means to spend prolonged time and considered thought on a particular topic, issue or scenario.

A therapist might say,
“Lets reflect on that for a moment.”
Meaning lets pause the conversation for a minute and just think. Lets take a moment of time to just let that sink in.

A therapist might say,
“Perhaps you might find it useful to reflect on that over the coming week.”
Meaning there may be more to this than first meets the eye, so perhaps with deeper thought you will uncover more and feel differently.

Triggers

In therapy terms a trigger is something that sparks your unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
The presence of a trigger can almost automatically create a particular unwanted reaction in you.
A trigger can be anything and they are unique to each individual. A person can have more than one trigger.
A trigger is connected to associated thoughts and memories.

The formula would be:
(T) Trigger = (R) Reaction (because of (A) association)

Examples of this would be:
(T) Parent = (R) Hostility (because of (A) prolonged emotional abuse)
or
(T) Being interrupted = (R) Anger (because of (A) prolonged feelings of worthlessness).
or
(T) Confined spaces = (R) Sweating uncontrollably (because of (A) a loss of control and sense of safety).
or
(T) Being in a social situation = (R) Anxiety and panic (because of (A) a history of being bullied and fearing people aren’t safe.

In therapy we help to identify clients’ triggers, work through the reactions and explore the associations. Eventually by evaluating these scenarios you will begin to neutralise the effects of a trigger and regain a sense of self-control when exposed to them.