Therapists are not life experts, says Honza Vojtko

Why did you become a psychotherapist? What do you like?
It somehow turned out on its own. From an early age I moved among people, as a child I did theater, and thanks to the amazing Irena Konývková, a true literary-dramatic guru, I learned to work with emotions, how to use them for the role, but also how to deal with them in general. Basically, I can say that if not for the drama, I probably would have had to deal with much more serious consequences of what happened in my childhood. Then I started to study one school after another, from apprenticeship to high school, then to college. All of these areas have led me to actively work with people. To interact with them. To relationships with people. I was in the company in positions ranging from internal communication to educating people, so therapy or early therapy training was a no-brainer. And then it happened all of a sudden. I think I experienced such a revelation, the encounter with my fulfillment. Yes, I know that sounds like a huge cliche. When you encounter this, then if you do anything else, you feel like you are betraying yourself. Everything I know, how I know how I see the world, suddenly started to be therapeutic work. And I can’t do anything else.

Honza Vojtko for the journal Moje Psychology. Author: Robert Tichi

How does therapy work, how can listening heal?
The key is already in the question itself. Listening, respectively listening to the other, is one of the fundamental pillars of therapy and not only. Even in friendships, when someone else listens to us and we listen to them, we have a great feeling that we are not indifferent to someone, that the subject, the feelings we are experiencing, are not indifferent to someone. But this is not enough. Each therapy direction has many sophisticated tools that each therapist can use for that particular story and order, for that particular client. And sometimes they are also very provocative and intermediate tools. Thus, therapy is not just about “talking”, clients sometimes experience very strong, almost emotionally negative situations, which are not possible without absolute trust in the therapist, that is, healing and helping. And for this, every therapist needs long-term, five-year training, where not only through personal experience, he has the opportunity to absorb these tools, learn to use them, learn to perceive the context of each client and soon. In addition, they must have personal dispositions, skills and knowledge, which is why job interviews are conducted for each training. However, it seems that the trend in therapies is towards a so-called integrative approach. This means that the therapist will use more tools and approaches from several directions and psychological fields ranging from psychoanalysis to CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy – note. Red.). After all, Pavel Rataj and I called our new training Integrative Couples Therapy and Partner Counseling.

Do you think therapists are “life experts”? Do they know anything other than the rest of us – the non-therapists?
I certainly wouldn’t go that far. Maybe there are experts on what our childhood can do with our adult life, maybe there are experts on how to work with trauma, where it comes from and why it can remain within us. Perhaps there are experts in various phobic states, anxiety, depression, in what area of ​​psychotherapy, but I would not dare to call them experts in life. It would mean that life itself is somehow universal, that there is an ideal form, but that is not the case. Life is unique and therapeutic expertise lies in the art of deciphering the unique, unique and irreplaceable with clients. After all, I define myself when someone calls me a relationship expert, because it would seem that the relationship as such is somehow clearly defined, universal. Every relationship is unique and my job is to help clients discover their uniqueness.

January 31, 2022

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As a therapist, you have undergone training and therapy yourself. Is there anything new you learned about yourself?
Well, that was it. In body therapy, I learned and tested how important it is for my body to live my life well. I learned that many things are written in the body, persist and manifest in one way or another in the future. In CBT training, I learned how important it is to be able to work with your thoughts, your attitudes. Thanks to him, I discovered my fundamental belief, which is a little different from what I would like, and because of which I tend to perceive the world in one way or another. But I also learned to consciously interfere in these processes and not succumb to them. And I also discovered how hard it is, how my original patterns don’t really go away, they tend to come back, and how disciplined I have to be in my life so that they don’t come back negatively. Through schema therapy, I learned that these schemas come from somewhere and that I should be kind, compassionate when I fail again and feel uncomfortable… And emotion-focused therapy helped me learned that without all my emotions, positive and negative, they cannot experience and survive, because then they will have some influence.

In my opinion, the work of a therapist is also that people are not afraid to open up to him and to entrust him with their ailments, even the most sensitive places. How do you get client and therapist to establish a confidential and open relationship with each other?
Establishing a so-called rapport is a basic therapeutic tool. Carl Gustav Jung defines it as “a mental state in which there is a feeling of harmony between the individual and the person or people around him”. Well, at the beginning of a therapeutic relationship, neither the client nor the therapist has anything but sympathy or antipathy. Trust is part of a deeper relationship, and we all know that relationship has to be built somehow. It takes some time. So, for example, during the first session with my clients, I never agree on another date, because I want them to feel free to decide. Vojtko works differently in media than in therapies. After all, we all have an idea of ​​each other, which changes after the first contact. I also explain to my clients that it is sometimes difficult to reach me because I know that if I do not pick up someone’s phone for the third time in a row, they may personally feel that I am not picking up their phone, and this enters into a process of trust. It is important to know all this context and to work with it.

You can read the full interview with Honza Vojtek about the role of taboos in our lives in the current issue of Moje Psychology magazine. It is also available in our online store iKiosek.cz. You order today, you have it in your mailbox tomorrow.

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