What I Wish People Knew About Therapy

Matthew Breuer, LMFT 112850 on Jun 01, 2018 in Treatment Orientation

You Get Out What You Put In

All too often a client thinks the therapist is going to do all the work. After all, you’re paying them, why should you have to put in any labor? Unfortunately, the therapeutic process entails the client to work just as hard, if not harder, than the therapist. Therapy provides a time and place for you to do self-reflection and growth. We can only help you water your own plant and pull your own weeds, not do it for you.

We Can't Solve Your Problems, But We Can Help You with Them

If I had a solution for all your problems, this would be a lot easier. The truth is, I envision you as the master of your own life, and trust you know even better than me what will work and what won’t. I believe you’ve likely tried many ways of dealing with your problem. Perhaps what is left is to be with the struggle together and see what creative answers lie within you, as those are the only true solutions, not any that I can provide.

We Don’t Have Easy Answers

Sometimes the symptom appears like it should be easy to fix. You have anxiety, so let’s reduce that anxiety. The bad news is that therapy isn’t about fixing people, though. The way forward might actually be to spend more time with that anxiety, to really feel it, to stop running away and let the anxiety flow through you and even consume you. The way forward can sometimes be the most unpleasant and unwelcome path. I can’t automatically take the anxiety away, but I can be there to support you.

Therapy Is Not Always a Quick Fix, It Can Take Time

Often clients show up and hope everything can be worked out in a few sessions, sometimes even in the first one. I wish I were a guru that could wave a magic wand and make everything ok. In reality, the shit in your life has probably been there for a while, and it’s not going to simply disappear. It will take a commitment of time and energy. It’s like filling in a hole you’ve dug using a shovel instead of a dump truck. You’ve got to shovel the dirt.

When It Gets Hard, Keep Going

You’re going to want to stop therapy. It’s gonna feel uncomfortable, unbearable, like torture even. Don’t give up. When it gets rough, then it gets good. When you’re actually confronting the nasty, icky stuff, then you’re making the real progress. Nobody wants to spend time with their weaknesses, flaws and vulnerabilities. We all too often want to pretend they don’t exist. We spend our lives avoiding them. Therapy is inevitably going to bring you face to face with the monster inside. Learn to befriend that monster and stop running away.

Therapy Works

Studies show therapy can be effective. You’ll doubt this at times. You’ll question if any of this is doing anything. I’ll sometimes wonder the same thing. Even so, I’ve seen remarkable changes in people that take therapy seriously. Give counseling a real try before jumping ship. Smooth sailing comes after the storm. I can be first mate, but ultimately you’re the captain of your fate.

Matthew Breuer is a Counselor in San Francisco, CA.

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