When people think about therapy, many will often imagine themselves lying on a couch, feet splayed out while talking up into the ceiling as a therapist writes out notes.
The couch itself has become the quintessential symbol for psychotherapy. Over 100 years after Sigmund Freud introduced it, this piece of furniture remains the prevailing object that seems to resonate with those who are considering seeing a therapist.
It’s been used to great extent in television and movies, oftentimes quite humorously as in the case of the therapy scenes of Good Will Hunting. Tony Stark even gave the couch a try in the post-credits scene of Iron Man 3, freely opening up to a drowsy Bruce Banner.
Freud introduced the couch into his practice as he began to incorporate the concept of free association in his interactions with patients. He believed that asking patients to lie down and to say whatever came to their mind (without making any eye contact), would help manifest new insights and realizations in both the therapist and patient. This technique, and the couch, would become mainstays in psychoanalysis for decades.
While the use of a couch has since departed from most modern psychotherapy methods and approaches, we believe that it still has the ability to offer tremendous value in building a positive therapist-patient relationship.
At A Space Between, our co-practice space offers a room specifically designed with a sleeper couch. We believe that this offers the therapist more options and flexibility in how they deliver their treatment. Moreover, it creates a more intimate environment that encourages deeper reflection from patients and clients and allows them to freely explore their passions and emotions and gain greater understanding.
One therapist in our co-practice space had such an experience.
A patient sought out therapy because she noticed that her self-defeating thoughts were causing her a great deal of anxiety and stress in her work and personal life. After several sessions, she discovered that her critical attitude towards herself was rooted in her relationship with her parents. The sessions started off very promising as the patient felt free to open up honestly and was receptive to the therapist’s feedback. As the sessions continued, though, the patient became increasingly uncomfortable and grew more and more distant.
With a desire to make progress, the therapist suggested the patient lie down on the couch to which she accepted.
As it turned out, she had intentionally been leaving out aspects of her life – things that made her feel uncomfortable and ashamed.
But lying on the couch helped to reduce those inhibitions and made her feel the freedom to explore those areas of her life more deeply. Because as much as the therapist worked to ensure a judgment-free session, it was difficult for the patient to resolve her own internal judgment when speaking to someone directly.
This story illustrates just one of the many reasons we love the couch and believe in the value it brings to our co-practice space.
What’s also great about the couch is that there isn’t a “correct” way to use it. We’ve seen therapists and wellness professionals in our co-practice space use it in a variety of ways to help enhance the experience of their clients and patients, including Bach Therapy, Somatic Therapy, Hypnotherapy, and Touch Therapy.
This sleeper couch is one of many elements within A Space Between that showcase our commitment to helping therapists, coaches, and wellness professionals build their practice and provide the best care for their clients.