In graduate school, we studied many psychological theoretical models. The one that most resonated with me is called Interpersonal Theory. Dr. Irvin Yalom describes what this theory is about:
Briefly put, the theory of interpersonal relationships posits that all psychological disorders (which are not caused by some physical insult to the brain) stem from disturbances in interpersonal relationships. People may seek help from a psychotherapist for a variety of reasons (depression, phobia, anxiety, shyness, impotence, etc.), but underlying these reasons and common to all is an inability to establish satisfying and enduring relationships with other people. These relationship difficulties have their origins far back in the past in the earliest relationships with parents.Irvin Yalom, Every Day Gets a Little Closer (Basic Books, 1974), 217.
Our early relationships with primary caregivers have a significant impact on our ability to navigate relationships with self and others. Thankfully, the brain is very adaptive and these dysfunctional relational patterns can change. Counseling then is the careful process of restoring one’s relational ability by healing past relational wounds that continue to manifest in the present.