In this modern media-saturated world of ours it is not uncommon for there to be misconceptions regarding the true and authentic nature of many things. It seems that the ease of access now possible to such a plethora of information has backfired into myriad situations of dis-information.
For example, consider that you wish to do some research regarding the use of coconut oil in your diet. On one webpage you may find information that touts coconut oil as the “elixir of life,” while another might report that it could actually be hazardous to your health. We are often left more confused than when we originally began with the good intention of researching a matter!
This situation is also present in psychology, and we often find that what “pop-psychology” reports can often vary greatly from what researchers and clinicians actually know and utilize. This is especially true regarding what people are told and what they tend to believe about the nature of psychotherapy.
I would like to address this situation by offering some informed suggestions regarding what therapy “IS NOT” and then follow up with a second post about what therapy actually “IS.” I find that these understandings can be very helpful for both clients and clinicians in that they can bring clarity and focus to the therapy from the “get go.” In fact, in my own practice I actually present and discuss a hand-out on many of these matters with every new patient/client.
First, therapy is not easy, nor do we always feel elated after each and every session. Real therapy is deep, often intense, and sometimes unsettling work. It is a place where we must first accept our own weaknesses and confront our personal demons before we are able to walk in the strength and freedom that the process is able to provide.
Second, we are not always going to be thrilled with our therapist. In fact, sometimes we may be downright angry with her or him:
Patient: “You know, you really pi$$ me off sometimes with your fancy a$$ terminology and clever interpretations!”
Therapist: “It is good for you to be able to say that to me so openly. Now we are getting somewhere. What else would you like to share?”
That said, our third point is that therapy is not ONLY a place to download and leave your frustrations. While it is true that one of the healing potentials of therapy lies within the Release of suppressed thoughts and feelings, if we are simply going in each week to “rant and rave” we are missing many other opportunities to avail ourselves of the ways therapy heals. As the preceding posts of this Blog explain, Release is only one of 10 dynamics and stages that we can identify that can assist us towards healing.
Lastly, we come to what I feel is one of the greatest misunderstandings about therapy. Therapy IS NOT advice giving. I understand that this might sound surprising to some of you, but it is indeed fact. Therapy IS NOT a process where a therapist tells us what to do, we go out and do it, and then are either happy with the therapist is if goes well, or we blame the therapist if it does not.
I believe this mentality is fueled by the modern consumerist mindset. I pay, I get what I want. Unfortunately this is not always the case in therapy. Often, we pay to have to see and confront what we have not wanted to know and/or face for many years, or even a lifetime. This goes back to our earlier point regarding therapy being a challenging endeavor.
Ah, but before we digress into too negative an energy allow me to state that these misunderstandings are merely the tip of the iceberg regarding the true nature and essence of therapy. As these misconceptions are worked though we come to discover the amazing potentials available to us through the gift of therapy.
These potentials will be the subject of my next post, and I look forward to writing it. Until then, a quote from Words that Heal regarding therapy:
“Therapy is a commitment, not a commodity. You do not acquire healing, you attain it.”