What is Therapy Really About?
April 18, 2022 by Sarah Earles, Clinical Supervisor/Child & Family Therapist
What is therapy really about? Clients often ask this question, especially if they are child clients, or clients otherwise referred to therapy. Well, as you might expect a therapist to answer, it depends. Therapy might be about something specific. It might be about a relational problem. It might be about a financial problem. Clients might seek it after trauma, or to prepare for a predicted future trauma. Therapy might be about something general. It might be in regards to hopes for self-improvement or improved relationships. It might be to gain life skills. It might be about finding a safe place to share. Therapy is really about, well, what the client wants it to be. It might be more helpful to talk about what therapy isn’t.
Therapy is not about the therapist fixing a client’s relationships. Struggles arise in relationships, and struggles heal in relationships. While the therapist can help couples and families process thoughts and feelings that impede or impair healthy relating, they cannot truly fix anything. Therapists can help clients and families brainstorm solutions to problems, but clients must do the work to fix the problems themselves.
Therapy is not about ending a behavior clients or parents deem problematic. Can a therapist help clients explore underlying motivations for behaviors? Yes. Can therapists help clients find alternatives to the behavior? Yes. Ultimately, however, clients and families must make the changes.
Therapy is not about erasing trauma. Trauma and its effects are lifelong. This does not mean that trauma has to control a client, however. The goal of trauma therapy is to reduce negative thoughts and emotions associated with traumatic memories to decrease the impact of the trauma so that it consumes less of life (Braman, 2020). The client, however, must participate in the trauma therapy process for this to happen.
Therapy is not about the therapist’s goals. It is about the client’s goals. It is about empowering the client to become their best self, about equipping the client with tools so they can make choices about their life. Therapy is about helping clients and families develop support systems. Therapy is really what the client makes it, because that is what therapy is about: the client.
Braman, L. (2020, July 29). Trauma recovery: A visual model. Lindsay Braman. https://lindsaybraman.com/trauma-therapy-recovery/