One of the misconceptions about psychotherapists that I hear a lot is that we are supposed to “fix” people. We are supposed to be able to wipe a person’s problems away in a short amount of time. We are supposed to make you talk when you don’t want to. We are looked at as these people who can wave a magic wand and make everything in a person’s life better. Here’s the catch. We are supposed to do this while seeing the client for 45 minutes a week.
Psychotherapists are not miracle workers nor are we magicians. The difference that those folks can do their work alone. The truth is the person who does most of the work in therapy is the client. The client has to be willing to be vulnerable, talk about things that have happened in their life and most importantly admit that there’s a problem. Plus, the work has to continue once the client leaves the room. If your therapist gives you homework or things to consider and you don’t do it, that’s not their fault. If you were prescribed medication and you don’t take it but expect results that’s not their fault. If you’ve been going to therapy for quite some time and you don’t notice a change, you have to look inward as well as outward.
It’s the therapist’s responsibility to help you but it’s your responsibility to change your problematic behaviors. It’s crucial that the client understand that this is a partnership, meaning both parties contribute and collaborate to accomplish a goal and resolve issues. This is a mutual relationship that requires give and take.The therapist can not and will not work harder than you to help you fix your problem. We are the mental health experts but YOU are the expert on your life and you have to tell the therapist what needs to be changed.
Patience is also essential. Symptoms related to trauma, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues do not disappear in months or weeks. Being patient in therapy also means to be patient with yourself so you can heal over time, not overnight.
Therapists play a role in helping you “fix” your life but we can’t do it alone. We can give YOU the tools to fix it. You just have to accept them and put them to use.