Psychotherapists sometimes make miracles by saving relationships and solving the most difficult problems. But how does their work look from the inside? A professional social psychotherapist Anton Shutov talked about it in his Twitter account and shared recommendations based on his many years of practical experience. In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of hugs, what “freshman syndrome” is, and other interesting observations.

At Bright Side, we learned a lot about the work psychotherapists do and would like to share this information with you.

About psychotherapists

  • There are very few truly talented specialists and that’s why people’s expectations are often not met when they first visit a psychotherapist. But this is important to remember if you are going to a psychological help.
  • If you happened to be at a psychotherapist’s office and felt that the session was not going well and that the contact between you and the consultant was weak, it’s likely that this person was not the right specialist for you. Look for another one — it’s normal. Once you find the right one, your world will change and brighten up.
  • We have a superstition: whatever unsolved issues a psychotherapist has in their life, the same issues clients will bring to their sessions. Many can confirm that this is true!
  • Do psychotherapists have stresses too? Yes, of course! For example, right now I am having the most severe depression. It’s the most complicated condition that I have ever had in my life. I hope I’ll get through it.
  • Some psychotherapists have very, very strange methods of working with clients. For example, I knew one specialist who used to use the type of therapy where they’d keep quiet in all their sessions. He would meet a client, they would sit silently together for an hour, and the client would pay them money and leave.
  • Clients entrust us with many hidden things, so we know the true story of a person. Sometimes knowing so many secrets starts to scare us. For example, I know the details of one crime but it’s dangerous to even mention it.
  • Every psychotherapist should have their own psychotherapist. I don’t have one because I can’t find the right one for myself. My best assistant, consultant, and therapist is my ex-girlfriend. In fact, she is the smartest and the most talented specialist — one of the best I have ever met.
  • The professions that deform a personality the most are teachers, artists and…you know who. It’s not the best idea to be living with or even communicating with a psychotherapist who has a professional personality deformation.

About professional deformation

  • Have I ever fallen in love with my clients? Yes, especially at the beginning. One of the main rules is that a psychotherapist should be objective. For that, he needs to be completely satisfied, even gastronomically. It’s always a reason for jokes among colleagues.
  • I had to work in telephone helplines. It’s very interesting! I acquired one skill there: I can identify a person’s age, psycho-type, and their emotional state just by listening to their voice and intonation. I can make any agent of “cold calls” such as representatives of banks, providers of various services, advertisers’ talk.
  • I hate the section of “advice of psychologists” in the media. Usually, it’s totally unprofessional people who say nonsense like, “Are you going through a depression? Then keep it up, smile and don’t feel sad! Look around — life is beautiful!” It’s partly because of them that people look at our profession with suspicion.

About clients

  • There is a strange nuance in the work of a psychotherapist: clients often fall in love with their consultants. It’s more than a crush — it’s a passion, obsession, addiction, and mania. This phenomenon is called “the effect of transference” and if a psychotherapist doesn’t stick to certain ethical norms, he can take advantage of the situation.
  • I feel bad when I hear about the prices that specialists set for their individual work with clients. Those are strange astronomical figures incommensurable with their human qualities (not to mention the professional level of those specialists). I am very critical of this subject.
  • A client can get addicted to visiting a psychotherapist because it’s where they feel most protected and accepted. Sometimes, it’s these emotions that many people lack in their lives. If the addiction appears, the sessions with a psychotherapist should promptly be stopped.
  • Sometimes, though very rarely, I cry together with my clients. It’s not shameful to show the feelings that you truly share because sharing feelings is a form of empathy that is so important and needed during sessions.
  • My friend has overcome a very severe depression. I myself couldn’t be an objective specialist for him, therefore, I sent him to another respectable psychotherapist whom I knew personally. He returned to being who he was before: calm, strong, wise. It was a real miracle!
  • One of the most dramatic and bright cases that I had to work with was the first time encountered a split personality. It was something incredible…the right name for it is multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder.
  • One guy couldn’t relax until the moment he changed the names of all the files containing music on his computer so that the names of singers and songs started with a small letter. He couldn’t fall asleep if there was at least one capital letter. He had thousands of tracks on his laptop.

About relationships

  • In order to decrease tension in personal relationships, I recommend arranging occasional fights in jest — with chasing, pillow fighting, choking, screaming, laughing, and giving fake punches. It brings psychic energy into motion, and its intensified flow clears emotional stagnation.
  • It’s good to be close to one another in relationships but it’s dangerous to endlessly dissolve in a partner — it can damage the integrity of both sides. There is a negative term called “merging” in Gestalt psychology — it’s when there is no “you” left in the relationship. The formula of any relationship should be “you and I”, not “we”.
  • A family where people often and easily say “I love you” is emotionally healthy and strong. It’s really important. Families who have a difficult time saying these words have a fear of expressing their feelings. For children, it turns into complications in building their relationships in the future.
  • The fear of expressing feelings with family members becomes a reason for the formation of dependent behavior in the future like alcoholism, drug addiction, oniomania (a passion for shopping), gambling, and so on.
  • People need hugs a lot and often. I always say to my students, “If you are having doubts about whether you should hug a person or not, hug!” Hugs heal and make both you and the person you are hugging stronger.

How to understand that you need the help of a psychotherapist

  • Mental disorders sometimes manifest through using diminutive words in speech too often. Those words can be “lambkin”, “Jimmy”, “Robsy”, “doggie”, “smallish”, “tallish”, “teensy-weensy”, “tootsie”, etc.
  • Have you ever heard of “freshman syndrome”? It’s when you start discovering the symptoms of a disease after you’ve read about them. Many people write to me that after reading some thread on the internet, they started to worry about their health. Stop! It’s all valetudinarianism — you are OK. That’s true!
  • Don’t read this paragraph if you are too valetudinary. Don’t start to think bad things about yourself but here is one more fact. If a person talks a lot while sleeping, they should get an ECG (electroencephalogram) done because it can be a symptom indicating an epileptic disorder.

How to help a person in a difficult situation

  • If you want to help a person encountering strong worries, take them to the street and walk with them as long as possible. Physical pressure (in this case, on the legs) is a way to release internal stressful tensions. The stronger the pressure is, the better.
  • Many people recommend starting a journey, leaving a place of habitual living during a depression. However, this can be a mistake. An increase in the number of external stimuli with internal disorders and reduced energy can lead to increased depression.
  • When having a panic attack, using smells can help. Take a perfume of another person (it can be the perfume of one of your parents), drip several drops of it onto a handkerchief, and keep it with you. Take it out and inhale the smell slowly when having an attack of panic, concentrating on the image of the person you love.

Interesting observations

  • In movies and novels, schizophrenia is drastically poeticized. In fact, it’s a totally different situation in real life because watching a panicking personality split and lose their connection with people and reality is scary and painful.
  • I would recommend that every person spend 15 minutes a day in complete silence and inaction to increase awareness and to strengthen self-analysis. No music, no phone, no one nearby. It helps greatly to get rid of stress.
  • When researching personality traits, I was searching for the most useful and helpful one in order to dedicate my energy and force its development. At first, it seemed to me that this trait was confidence but after some time, I realized that it was awareness. It’s the universal force.
  • Here is my favorite phrase that helps to detail complicated conflicting situations with a defensive client: “Offense is the result of unrealized expectations.” Many things look different through this phrase.

Books that Anton Shutov recommends reading for those who are interested in psychology

Do you have any experience communicating with psychotherapists? Have you read any of the books from the list? Please tell us your impressions in the comments!

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