One of the greatest fallacies about therapy is that seeking it is a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Recognizing the need for help and doing something about that need, far from being a sign of weakness, is an indication of maturity and strength.
It is a manifestation of the individual’s essential humanity and of their courage and determination to live a balanced and meaningful life. This surely merits respect.
Indeed, there are times when most of us could use the assistance and support of an experienced professional who is equipped and trained to guide, advise and help us on our way.
The Therapist As God
Sometimes people come to the therapist already placing that person on a pedestal. Seeing the therapist as ‘the expert,’ they imagine this individual to have always been well balanced, wise, and completely ‘sorted’. But the therapist is a human being, and human beings are not born with all the answers, nor will we ever acquire all of them.
The good therapist knows the solutions to a person’s problems already exist within that person. It is the therapist’s job not to provide answers or impose remedies, but to help the person discover their own solutions.
In my life I have met and known many therapists. I have come to believe that the very best — those who excelled at moving people forward and helping them grow — were once themselves forced to struggle and overcome serious difficulties.
Most have known what Rudyard Kipling called ‘those two imposters’: triumph and disaster, success and failure. And every one of them will tell you the same thing: If you are lost, confused, or hurting, do not despair. Do your very best to see what you are going through as part of your human education, something that life is asking you to pass through so that you can change and become a more whole, authentic person. There is no need for it to last and last.
It helps enormously to understand that nothing really leaves us in peace until it has taught us what we need to know.
Though it might be difficult to accept at this moment in time, your difficulties can give you valuable insight that will lead you on to a deeper understanding and a better life. Whether we recognize it or not, we are all somehow dancing the dance of change. And this process will continue until we leave this world.
Doing And Being
‘The way to do is to be,’ said the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, and each one of us is in the process of becoming. As we begin to become, we change. We no longer need to run away from, deny, or attempt to distract ourselves from our difficult emotions. We learn to face them and deal with them. In doing this, we move nearer to the creative person we truly are within and closer to the profound understanding that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with us.
We have simply been running in the wrong direction, looking in the wrong places, buying into the wrong stories and the wrong beliefs, feeding our mind with the wrong things. In our mad rush to do, we have forgotten how to be, how to sit comfortably in our own skin. Once we recognize this, and do something about it, things become much clearer: We have been ‘normal’ all along. Not average, but normal. We just didn’t know it.
This is the understanding — forged in the fires of experience and honed by learning, shaped by tumult and joy and by the simple humility gained from having lived — that the best therapists bring to each new client and to each human being they meet. It is an understanding that is at the heart of all good therapy.
A Safe Place
In the therapeutic setting, people are given a safe place where they can reveal themselves without fear of judgment, criticism or rejection. Indeed, nothing is more essential than a person feeling safe and completely accepted as they enter into and move through any form of psychotherapy.
Therapy that can be very demanding of both client and therapist; in it there is no room for dishonesty or deceit. Good therapy is a means of freeing oneself from such things. Intense as it is, it is the very intensity, the exacting honesty that makes it so truly rewarding.
*Peter’s article was first published in The Huffington Post US Edition