You are driving down the highway and all of a sudden your car stalls and swerves. You struggle to keep control and just about manage to get the car to come to a grinding halt. Something is wrong with the car.
What’s next? When there is a problem with your car, you take it to a mechanic to get it fixed. You take it to an expert.
What about when you are unwell? You go to the experts, therapists. But you are not a car and you cannot be fixed.
For therapy to work, you need to be an active participant, bringing your expertise about what life is like for you. The best solutions and insights will come from you, with the therapist acting more like a skilled and knowledgeable facilitator, guiding the process. Therapists do not fix you and they do not tell you what to do, how to walk, talk, think, and feel. And thank heavens for that! Can you imagine being dependent on a therapist to tell you how to live?
MYTH Therapists are experts. They will fix me.
FACT If only this were true! A qualified therapist is there to guide you through your challenges and therapy is an experience where you can feel relieved that you are not alone with your problems.
Working with a therapist can be compared to working with a physical trainer. Although a trainer can provide an inspirational structure for change, helping the client to identify specific goals and suggest a regime to achieve them, it is always up to the client to make use of the tools provided.
Therapy can be overwhelming in a similar way. Initially you may not even notice the results. You wonder when you will see the new changed you. It is common to feel a bit worse before you feel better, but if you stick with the process, let go of old habits, and rework some perceptions, soon enough you have your mind and body functioning better than ever.
Therapy does require you to work and does not always provide an immediate sense of relief. You may confront feelings, thoughts, memories or personal insights that are uncomfortable, even painful. These experiences result in you wanting to make changes in your beliefs, values, habits or behaviours that may make you uncomfortable at first. Yet with time and effort they will result in a happier healthier you.
In that sense therapy is a lot of hard work—a process more akin to going to the gym than going to the spa.
Ultimately the responsibility for change rests with you. The therapist will not provide you with a psychological blueprint of who you are. The therapist’s role is to provide a safe and comfortable environment along with a trusting relationship where questions can be addressed. Therapists will not often give advice, but rather, help you to understand the conflicts within you that make it difficult for you to make your own decisions. Of course there are a-ha moments and revelations during sessions, but for change to really happen and last, the majority of the work happens between (and after) sessions. With your therapist’s help, you work towards your goals, decide on a plan for growth and change, and then practice the new behaviours not only during the sessions but most importantly out in the real world.
In the long run, the goals of therapy are for people to develop more awareness, gain more self-insight, and make the most of their strengths and abilities thereby creating a new compelling future ahead.
• Taasha made the big move – quit her job and relocated across continents to move forward with the relationship of her dreams.
• Sarah is using the tools and techniques that she learned to close deals in her new Sales Manager role.
• Navin left a successful career with the aviation industry to follow his passion and is now a successful fashion photographer.
You could be next!