• What’s Therapy all About?

    What’s Therapy all About?

    I have been asked different variants of this question over the course of my career and with each inquiry I find myself tailoring a response specifically to the inquirer. This question led me to determine a response that could be satisfactory to a potential client or the curious individual. I have chosen two responses: one addressing therapy as a noun and the other addressing therapy as a verb. In other words, one definition will explain what therapy is while the other will explain how therapy works.

    What is Therapy?

    Therapy is gaining an understanding of how your past is acting out in the present, which may then go on to address how it may impact your future. I like this quote from Milton H. Erickson (1901 – 1980): ‘People do not come into therapy to change their past but their future’. I find that aligns very closely with this definition of what therapy is. This definition puts the onus on us in this therapeutic relationship to do the work, together, to gain this understanding. But, we do not stop there. Understanding standing alone is not as useful until we translate it to wisdom. For me, wisdom is what I do with what I know. This takes us to the second question:

    How does Therapy work?

    The lay expectation of what goes on in the therapy session is talk. We sometimes wonder: how does talking help me? I could just talk to anyone about my problems, right? Yes, most definitely. But when we only talk we are missing a crucial element: treatment. The psychotherapy process involves introducing interventions that often challenge and destabilize old patterns of thoughts and behaviors; before establishing new patterns.

    This is how therapy works. This is what therapy is truly about. First, we gain an understanding, together. Then we shake things up and change things around. This shaking and changing may be uncomfortable, sometimes painful. If we both keep our eyes on the prize, we can endure the process.

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