Photo of psychotherapist Henriette Johnsen between trees

My values are very important to how I work as a therapist - and how I view the world in general as a human being. Below, you can read about my core values which guide me in life and as such, colour my approach to my therapeutic work and counselling tasks.

My values as a therapist and as a human being

First and foremost,

Everyone is doing their best

I work from a heartfelt and fundamental belief that everyone is doing their best. 

Sometimes we develop thought patterns or behaviours which might have helped us earlier in life, but no longer serve us and may prevent us from living the life we dream of – a life which could be more meaningful and satisfactory. 

 

By understanding how and why these patterns have emerged, you will be able to depart with them and create new, better functioning strategies going forward – strategies more aligned with how you see yourself, your values and integrity, and how you wish to lead your life.

To make peace with your life story, your relationships and not least yourself, it’s important to keep in mind that you do what you do for good reasons. By connecting to your narratives and gaining a felt experience of why you have become who you are, you will be able to embrace the future from a place of greater attunement with yourself.

 

In the words of one of the founders of humanistic psychology, Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change” 

Suffering is part of life

It’s an existential given that we are all going to die, that we will lose people we love and care for, that we can become seriously ill or be subjected to an accident; and that at times, we will go through hardship and crises which seem impossible to overcome and, in the moment, lack all meaning. Just as we can’t change this, it’s a fundamental part of my therapeutic work that I cannot always change my clients’ life conditions. Therefore, it becomes important for vitality and energy in life that we work towards accepting these aspects of life.

It may be that you need to grieve the loss of certain life functions, the loss of a dear relative or friend, the loss of life not had, of dreams not fulfilled. The existential experiences of life changing conditions mean you need to reconsider your values, dreams, and ways of living. As challenging as this might be, it can also be a rewarding process in the sense that you can regain vitality and energy to integrate your losses in moving forward in life.

Emotions aren’t dangerous

Allowing yourself to fully embrace and feel the depth of your emotions can be painfully difficult. Perhaps you have grown up in a family where emotional expression was scorned or otherwise dismissed; perhaps you have been through traumatic experiences which you have never fully processed. When you are fully enmeshed in your deepest emotional wounds, it can feel like you are on route to destroying yourself; and as a protective mechanism, many refrain from fully engaging with these parts of themselves.

Adding to the natural difficulty of expressing our innermost emotions, in modern day life, we have a tendency to strive for perfection and happiness at all cost. In doing so, we have come to allow very little room for embracing the full spectrum of human emotion – and as such, many don’t understand themselves or know how to emotionally regulate themselves during challenging times.

Many see emotional vulnerability as weakness. What if we, in line with American researcher Brené Brown, who has done extensive research on shame, vulnerability, and leadership, started viewing vulnerability as the source of increased self-esteem in the sense that by being vulnerable, we allow ourselves access to our innermost self: our joys, sorrows, drives, fears, and ultimately, our strength, and humanity?

I believe that emotions are our biological way of moving us with the intend of allowing us access to our needs and longings – as such, emotions become a language worth paying attention to. At times, our emotions may be uncomfortable, but if we view them as the music of life, they can guide us towards more fulfilling lives as we will no longer cut vital aspects of ourselves off.

When negative thoughts and uncomfortable emotions take the better of us, it’s important to remain mindful that thoughts and emotions in themselves have no power to make what we might be frightened of come true. If we allow ourselves to be curious of these, we gain not only a better understanding of ourselves, we also enhance our opportunities of creating more fulfilling, meaningful and satisfactory lives in alignment with our values, integrity and dreams.

Background image of two people holding hands

Attachment

From clinical and personal experience, I believe that by understanding our attachment style and how our nervous system works, by being aware of our triggers and physical reactions to these, our defence mechanisms and how we fight feelings of shame, we can learn how to self-regulate in emotionally difficult situations. This will help us better our relationships and feel more securely attached.

Change is possible

Much has been written about change; and though we can all be apprehensive to change, we all have the capability to change.

Recent research shows us that the brain has plasticity throughout life. Due to its amazing ability to create new neurological pathways, and the fact that the brain doesn’t distinguish between old and new experiences, it’s possible to rewire our neuro-biology to change our perception of the world and our relational experiences, and as such, create a better life for ourselves going forward.

Changes often happens quicker for children, but it is possible to create new ways, new neural connections all the way through life. It’s never too late to give your emotions attention, to train new ways of being or to revise the rules you might be following in life. 

I can help you discover and revise any rules you might be following, that aren’t serving your purpose anymore.