And I think that it's about time that I shared some more of my thoughts here. One of the main things that I have been struck by in this last year is the importance of taking personal responsibility. Therapists don't cure patients. We are more like teachers and guides than we are like shamans or even medical doctors. We guide, we encourage, we even correct people when they are about to walk off of a cliff. But ultimately, we don't heal or cure. We each have to take the curative steps for ourselves. One of the problems, however, is that oftentimes, patients are so lost, they don't know what those steps are. And that's where the therapist comes in. So step one is that the therapist clarifies what steps need to be taken.
The therapist also clarifies and simplifies. I have often mused about how confused I would be if I was not a psychologist and had a mental health problem. I could imagine myself in front of a row of books at Barnes and Noble wondering which one to read. Or I could see myself looking through the Yellow Pages wondering which therapist to call. And even if I did buy an appropriate book, it would be doubtful that I would be able to stay with what it was recommending. So the therapist clarifies what is important. He/she does this partly by simplifying and leaving out the least important theoretical understandings.
And the therapist encourages. That's how people stay with things. Encouragement from a teacher. It is very difficult for any of us to teach ourselves. I have a jazz piano teacher. And I have an oil painting teacher. For all of the above reasons--to clarify, to simply, and to encourage. But ultimately, I have to practice and practice and practice. I would never expect that they could just magically make me into a good artist or jazz pianist just because I show up and pay them money. But I think that sometimes clients think that will happen. Effort, practice, thought, mistakes, persistence, and so on, are all part of the process.