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Do You Have ‘Change’ For Me?

Do You Have ‘Change’ For Me?

Some Conceptions and Misconceptions About Therapy

On my way home this morning, I was having a conversation with someone. At one point the fellow pulled out a cigarette and lit up. At some point, I mentioned that I also used to smoke. I guess he somehow read on me that I missed those days, so he asked me if I still crave the cigarette. To which I responded that, yes, at times I do indeed crave the smell and other pleasures of the cigarette. Of course, as soon as I said that, he said “I guess there is no real therapy that works for this, is there?” ….and carried on smoking.

This episode is what I would consider to be typical of some of the common misconceptions and un-useful attitudes that some have about therapy and what it is principally about.

Therapy is Not About Changing The World (Everyone Else)

In essence what should be clear to those seeking psychological help, is that therapy is not about changing the world and the realities of life so that the client can get the feel better illusion for a short while.

Instead, therapy is more of a way to assist those in need by (re)educating  and giving the tools for learning how to deal with the often quite unfortunate situations or experiences that are happening to them at present, so that they can finally move on with their lives.

Therapy is About Helping You to Change Your Attitude, Feelings and Behaviors Towards Others, As well as Towards Substances Which You Abused Your ‘Self’ With…

It is  imperative to recognize that cigarettes, drugs and food all taste, smell and feel good. When a person is abusing ‘them-self’ with self-destructive behaviors which are related to food, cigarettes or any other action or substances, it’s not the substance that needs therapy treatment (i.e. let’s talk about smoking being bad, or let’s get it to taste bad, etc).

Instead it is the individual who is constantly dealing with guilt and shame and therefore not finding the strength and courage to make decisions that can have a positive effect in their life.

Therapy is Not Necessarily the Answer to Stopping Bad Things From Happening.

At times people who suffer from depression, anger and anxiety come to therapy seeking that the ‘situation’ become resolved. It is similarly important that such clients comprehend that it is an unfortunate reality that many sad and bad things happen to people. These things have forever been happening and will unfortunately continue. Therapy is not the answer to stopping those awful things from happening. All a therapist can possibly attempt to achieve is to teach the client how to move on from the here and now.

It is in many ways unrealistic and often quite unhelpful when a therapist attempts to make all terrible scenarios and situations become good and positive.

The Danger of Attempting to Make Bad Things Seem Positive.

Frankly, I know of more than one case, where a person avoided going to therapy because they were worried the therapist would try to make them re-experience the unpleasant experience that happened to them in a positive way. Classically in psychology terms this is known as denial, where one is simply denying the person the right to feel a certain way. Mostly, people who have suffered unpleasant traumatic experiences simply do not wish to have any more ongoing associated feelings around what happened to them. They just wish they could get on with their lives normally.

To summarize in a few short words:

    • Be realistic about the change you are asking of your therapist.

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