A psychotherapy session is a conversation between you and the therapist. It is a conversation where you can share anything about your life, without being told to be different from what you are. It is a space where you are not pushed into being a particular kind of person, but rather, a space where you can be as you are.
The therapist usually does not give you advice about what to do with your life, or solutions to your problems. The therapist listens to you fully and intensely, endeavouring to experience with you your feelings, as you describe them. He then offers his thoughts in response, based on his understanding of the situation, which in turn is shaped by his studies and his personal journey in life. There emerges a deeper understanding of the experiences being discussed, and greater openness to them in all their depth.
One may see that there is a reason life has brought us to painful experiences – anxiety, sorrow, anger – in short, to suffering. When accepted and understood, suffering shows a path forward that is marked by a way of being that is, in a unique way for every person, more rooted in an inner peace, more sensitive to others, and more alive to a sense of purpose in life. This is an inner journey that unfolds afresh every moment, and yet is a slow and long one.
The relationship between the therapist and client is not hierarchical, but rather, one of two friends looking at the reality of life with sincerity and deep interest. The therapist is not an expert on your life, and you are free to tell him that you do not see things in the same way. A relationship of equality and mutual regard enhances the introspective power of the work. A relationship of dependence and hierarchy dissipates it.