How and/or why did you become a therapist?
I studied a Masters of Gestalt Therapy and then embarked on studies in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. I became a therapist because I wanted to put into practice core beliefs and values that were important to me, to ‘walk the talk’. I developed a passion for working with relationship as it’s a fascinating and challenging field and I wanted to help people navigate the complex emotional world of relating successfully.
What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?
Seeing the shift in people from hopelessness and despair to feeling happier and more fulfilled in their relationships. I find couples and relationship particularly rewarding. When people in a relationship move out of dysfunctional ways of relating, based on ingrained patterns, towards a healthier, happier and more fulfilled relationship.
What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?
Being able to alter negative patterns of relating into more positive rewarding ones. I always say, ‘it’s not the people it’s the pattern’. Helping people to understand and accept themselves. To have compassion for oneself is not only a reward in itself but a contribution to others happiness. I am able to understand both sides of an argument/point of view and to be compassionate to all feelings involved in the conflict. I am able to hold to what lies beneath the surface of reactive emotional states and to validate and acknowledge those deeper feelings.
What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
A problematic relationship is the fault of the relationship, not the people doing the relating! To be mindful of what and how you say what you say especially when you are emotionally charged. To be aware that you can’t make the other person behave or think and feel like you do. But to celebrate the differences in a way that feels safe and not confronting.
What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?
That it can be hugely successful if you find a qualified and competent therapist and you commit to the process. That therapy can help to destigmatize mental illness and that all problems no matter how difficult are temporary.
What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?
To give and take advice! Patients have the answers to their own personal problems, the therapist just supports them to uncover them. By giving advice we take the power away from our patients to help themselves.
You can learn more about Jonathan Swan at goldcoastcouplescounselling.com.au.