Therapy often revolves around the loss and recovery of human connection. 5

from book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

While death may seem like the ultimate fear, ask yourself this: Would you choose to stay alive if you were told you had to live the rest of your life in solitary confinement?
The prospect of long-term loneliness is pretty terrifying – and the actuality of it can be downright unbearable. That was definitely true of one of the author’s elderly patients, a 69-year-old woman named Rita who had been almost completely socially isolated for about a decade when she came to see the author. Rita felt such a craving for human connection that she started getting pedicures just so she could have at least one form of physical contact in her life: the pedicurist touching her feet.

But Rita was simply on the extreme end of a spectrum of loneliness which many therapy patients either already find themselves on, or fear being on. For example, the television scriptwriter John was surrounded by colleagues at work and had a wife and two kids at home, but because he didn’t know how to openly communicate with them, he still felt a sense of isolation.

And in the author’s case, her relationship with her ex-boyfriend helped to ease her fear of isolation when they were still together. But when they broke up, her fear bubbled to the surface and was another reason the breakup affected her so much. With middle age creeping up on her, she was afraid she’d never find another romantic partner.

In the author’s experience, a lack of human connection is one of the most common underlying issues that brings patients into therapy. So forging such a connection with their therapist then plays a crucial role in bringing them out again, by helping them reach a place of healing. During a therapy session, a therapist and his patient experience something that’s becoming increasingly uncommon in the hectic, smartphone-addicted modern world: an extended period of uninterrupted time in which to have an intimate, face-to-face conversation.
Over the course of a series of such sessions, the patient is able to tell her story and feel understood by the therapist, who then helps rewrite her narrative into one that will help her move forward with her life. For many patients like Rita, moving forward can involve reaching out to other people and forging new (or renewed) relationships. But before that can happen, there are often a couple of other underlying issues that the patient needs to reckon with.