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Brighton House, 29 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3

Psychotherapy offers support for the emotional turmoil caused by events as mentioned above but it also focuses on uncovering – and helping people to change – the unconscious patterns of behaviour developed in childhood. These behavioural patterns enabled the survival of the individual by helping them cope with the stresses and strains with which they were faced. Unless we learn to change these patterns to fit more adult situations, we end up reacting in the same way to our adult problems as we did to our childhood ones. Since these patterns were developed in our childhood and we have relied on them into adulthood they have become so habitual that we often mistake our behavioural patterns for our personality. We believe they are ‘who I am’.

Psychotherapy can identify the defences we are holding onto from our childhood and help dismantle them through processing the emotional hurt they have been protecting us from. Over time, the process enables us to replace them with more flexible, spontaneous defences appropriate to adulthood. For this reason, the psychotherapeutic process may take a longer time to be effective.