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Understanding personality types and the role of the therapist

The pandemic has forced Malaysians to live with a great deal of uncertainty. Many people fell apart during the difficult months of lockdown, and support lines in the country and abroad were jammed as people struggled to cope.

It is natural, therefore, to feel a little apprehensive as schools reopen and employees make the gradual return to the office. Research suggests that personality traits affect the way a person feels or relates to others in the new normal.

There are generally four different personality types or engagement patterns when it comes to forming relationships. Secure people, such as therapists, bounce back quickly after an adversity and tend to remain calm in a crisis and offer support to others.

Avoidant people sometimes come across as dismissive, critical or even patronising. They are mistrustful by nature and need time to cope with new situations. This group has low self-esteem, feels insecure in relationships, and might have had challenging childhood experiences.

Then there are the overly anxious and the timid, avoidant types. Both are likely to feel isolated and experience stress during this transition period.

Attachment traits or patterns of relating to others tend to develop during childhood. Secure people often had a loving, nurturing caregiver. Those with unresponsive or insensitive caregivers, on the other hand, form insecure attachments and are anxious and easily distressed

Unless you have a secure personality, the events of the past couple of years are likely to impact your emotional health and, in some cases, increase the risk of depression. (Freepik pic)

Avoidant personalities often had harsh or dismissive caregivers and have learnt over time to suppress their emotions and deal with things on their own. They can become disorganised in times of crisis, switching between avoidant and anxious coping behaviours, and may even release the internal tension by hurting themselves.

Learning about your unique personality traits can provide insights into how you will adjust post-lockdown. This would allow you to be more forgiving of your own less-than-perfect responses or to empathise with those who take longer than usual to bounce back.

But perhaps the most important takeaway is the knowledge that personality traits are malleable and, once identified, you can learn to develop healthier responses and behaviours.

Begin the process by self-reflection. The easiest way is to keep a journal of your emotional responses and reactions. It also helps to have a role model or an archetype for how you would prefer to respond.

Therapists as the nurturing caregiver

The relationship you have with a clinical hypnotherapist or psychotherapist reflects a secure style of engagement. This is one of the most effective ways for adults to develop positive personality traits and process emotional baggage.

Talking about your emotions helps you to organise and process the way you feel. Your therapist will also provide you with non-judgmental feedback, encourage you to reflect on your actions, and teach you new ways to respond towards yourself and others.

Additionally, clinical hypnotherapists will help you to access your unconscious mind and establish new more positive patterns and memories.

Therapists provide a safe and supportive environment for you to discuss your feelings and reactions. (Rawpixel pic)

Therapy gives you the chance to repair your earliest emotional bonds and relearn new ways of engaging with others. This helps to correct unhealthy attachment patterns and release emotional pain and afflictions.

Anxious people crave connection, while avoidant personalities withdraw from conflict and intimacy. During times of crisis both groups lack the emotional resources to cope effectively, placing them at heightened risk of anxiety, depression, loneliness, eating and conduct disorders, alcohol dependence, substance abuse and hostility.

It can sometimes fall on a therapist to provide a temporary attachment figure. They assume the role of a nurturing caregiver, helping clients work through their lost trust, restoring confidence, and teaching new responses to establish emotional regulation and healthy intimacy.

Psychotherapeutic intervention can be as effective, and sometimes more so, than medication over the long term. Emotional healing does not take place overnight. But many clients who go through the process describe it as one that restores their sense of self and, in some cases, has saved their lives. This post was featured on Free Malaysia today. Link here Understanding personality types and the role of the therapist | Free Malaysia Today (FMT)

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