Recently I heard a talk radio program where the host said (in reference to what, I cannot remember), “This is not like psychotherapy where they are trying to fix you…” I couldn’t hear the rest because I was in total shock. I knew this point of view existed, but I had never heard it said so succinctly: psychotherapists try to fix people. I could only think in little sound bites: Wait. Time out. FALSE.
It took me a couple of weeks to recover and process. So now let me say in response that I’m not interested in fixing anyone. I don’t believe anyone is broken. At the heart of it, I actually think most people fear they are broken, but are not. It’s this fear that creates a lot of problems.
As a therapist, I do not try to fix things or people. I try to normalize the human experience. I help in another way key way, too: unearthing options that have been previously undiscovered.
It’s a bit difficult to convince people that they haven’t thought of all the possible ways to deal with a thought, feeling, relationship, or situation. But you haven’t. I haven’t. It’s a big problem because people think, “What’s a therapist going to tell me that I don’t already know?” My response is actually, “Quite a bit.”
As a therapist, I’m really just a creative, collaborative generator of possible choices. I listen, reflect, try to make sure I get what’s being said. Then through dialogue and questions, I help find more options than previously considered. Some ideas I bring up, some come up from clients just by talking in a new way about their situation.
It’s not because I’m all awesomely creative that I come up with ideas. It’s really because I talk with a lot of people in a deep and meaningful way all day. I’ve started to hear about lots of ways of doing things. I also try to read and collect ideas from a broad range of sources. I’m excited everyday to learn something new and to figure out how I might apply it to my work.
Out of this desire to collect new viewpoints, I’m starting a guest post series on this blog. I’ve met some very talented people who have interesting things to say about the world of health, wellness, and being human from their own unique perspectives. I’ve asked them to share here on this blog.
Aaron Bilodeau, co-creator of www.existanew.com, a project that challenges conventional notions on how to foster health, live, and be happy.
Dawn Clancy, creator of Growing Up Chaotic, a blog and radio program for those determined to SURVIVE and THRIVE despite growing up in toxicity – i.e. a childhood immersed in alcohol, drugs and physical, emotional or mental abuse. Her goal? Create a community hell bent on breaking, cracking and demolishing the cycle of dysfunction.
Lynn Shattuck, Portland, Maine writer and mother of two recently featured on Love for Lemons. She writes warm, touching, and often humorous pieces on topics such as perfectionism, parenting, and grief.
I hope you will read, share, and comment. The more we talk together, the more ideas are shared, the more options we see in our world, the easier it is to make choices that work for our own lives.