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what therapy is, and is not.

How do you feel about therapy? Is it something that is scary for you, or something you expect to solve or your problems? Or is it something you see as a tool for exploring yourself? Unfortunately, many people don’t have an accurate picture of what psychotherapy and counseling are all about and what they can actually get from it. Consequentially, there are clients who, due to their false expectations, just give up from therapy after one or two sessions. On the other hand, there are therapists who simply don’t provide what they should provide for their clients.

For these reasons, we want to clarify what therapy is, and is not. What can you expect from psychotherapy and what it should provide? Learning this will help you get the most out of your counseling sessions and have realistic expectations. Additionally, you’ll be able to recognize if you should, maybe, change your therapist.

Here is an extraordinarily helpful article on this matter: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2016/08/what-therapy-is-is-not-10-considerations/. Tamara Hill shares some useful guidelines on what characterizes good therapy, as well as what therapy shouldn’t be.

Therapy is…

  1. Teamwork and partnership
  2. Open
  3. Supportive
  4. Equal but with professional boundaries
  5. Authentic

Therapy is Not…

  1. Competitive
  2. Defensive
  3. Exploitative
  4. Suffocating
  5. Forceful

The psychotherapeutic process almost always includes change, and change can be uncomfortable. Even if you find yourself falling into some of the last 5 behaviors, don’t worry; sometimes, these feelings are normal for certain stages in psychotherapy. A good therapist will work with you on your feelings and you’ll together try to find where they’re coming from. As long as it’s not your permanent view or constant behavior on your sessions, there is no reason for serious concerns.

Lastly, Rollo May sums up what therapy is and is not nicely:

“Therapy isn’t curing somebody of something; it is a means of helping a person explore himself, his life, his consciousness. My purpose as a therapist is to find out what it means to be human. Every human being must have a point at which he stands against the culture, where he says, ‘This is me and the world be damned!’ Leaders have always been the ones to stand against the society — Socrates, Christ, Freud, all the way down the line.”

– Rollo May

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