What's A Safe Space In Therapy?
The main idea in therapy is to provide healing experiences to the client that aim to repair or to provide something missing.
Safe space it’s not only about creating the space for the client to say what comes to mind; it also means that whatever hurtful happened to the client before, it won’t happen in therapy; that the client won’t be exposed to criticism, harassment, judgment, or any other emotional harm; and that whatever happens in therapy will be sincere, honest and focused of meeting client’s needs.
“Safe Space” experiences in therapy even if unique, intend to offer:
an experience that hasn’t happened but that should have happened: these experiences could be related to events that were missing in childhood or on the regular relationships like how to build trust and connection; notice how it feels to been heard, seen, understood, validated, accepted, recognized; learn that you are cared for, important, significant, smart, funny, etc.
an experience that we normally don’t have but should have: these experiences are those that provide space for introspection, for spontaneity, for honesty, for doubt, for reflection. Having permission to feel whatever emotions even if considered negative, or to question what we are not supposed to question allows the client to grow confidence and to learn about themselves which could be then replicated outside of therapy.
If clients experience something that used to be difficult or challenging before, by having s safe experience, they can then replicate the experience outside therapy. They may not speak as freely, but they may not be afraid of feeling or thinking in ways that were suppressed before.
For example, if you were highly criticized, you may have grown insecure of your intelligence, your taste or your judgment; by having the opportunity to speak up without the fear to be criticized, you will be working on gaining confidence in yourself. Then, you can go into the world and speak with confidence instead of fear, just because you were able to experience a safe space.
Having the space to experience the whole range of emotions without consequences it’s not only healing, but an experience that could regulate the daily interaction with other’s emotions and with your own.
The main reason to express ourselves freely is to know ourselves better. That will reflect in daily life even if not mimicking therapy, but gaining confidence given by having been in a safe place.