People call me all the time asking me, “where are you located” or even first, “how much do you charge?”
Both questions are important. However, the MOST important question often isn’t asked which is “how can you help me”?
The first two questions imply that all therapy is the same and all therapists are the same. This could not be further from the truth.
There are many people in all kinds of professions who use buzz words to describe what they do while, in fact, not doing that manner of work at all.
To begin with, good therapy is done by people who know how to bring people together. They teach clients the tools of connection rather than disconnection.
They do not ask people how they FEEL about things. They ask clients what they are DOING about what they feel that promotes the relationship they are trying to be in.
Good therapists lead their own successful relationship lives. They are role models for their clients in terms of stability, morality, consistency , honesty, and vulnerability. They don’t mind answering questions about themselves or how they solve problems They are able to speak to their own mistakes and how they handled them. They are optimistic about life and relationships.
When people come to see me I am problem solving. Often I am asked, “how do you listen to all that all day?” “Listen to what?” I ask. I listen to the pain long enough to understand the problem. After that I am collaborating with whoever is in front of me about what to do that is pro the client’s goal in the relationship.
Sometimes people have unrealistic goals. If this is the case we must negotiate what can reasonably happen and what it would take to get there.
People come to see me usually with the SYMPTOM of the problem. It is then our job to understand what the real problem is so we can work on it. A case of depression turns out to be that the last child is off to college and mom and dad have become distant. Dad works all the time and mom is depressed and lonely. Those are really relationship problems that are malleable in one form or another.
In marriage counseling or in family therapy (and these can still be done with one person in the room) I always ask at the end, “What did you get today?” The client(s) should take tools with them for solving problems. This is the exchange. The client pays the therapist for useful tools for making things better. The assumption often is that if the client Knew how to fix things the client would do so. In problem solving therapy the client is seen as needing advice or direction and the therapist is the resource for that.
I spend several hours the first time with new people. This is because a fifty minute session is not long enough to be helpful. The goal in problem solving is to send people out with a beginning direction if possible. I take a thorough history to understand the nature of what is going on, length of time of the problem, and how it started. Then we move to what to do next.
People who seek help are uncomfortable or in pain. The more discomfort, the more apt they are to listen. Bringing people back and forth to the therapist’s office without a path for improvement is debilitating for people who are already debilitated. It is disjointed and has the potential to depress clients even further. They talk about what is bad and leave with it that way.
I LOVE what I do. That is why I do it. I love it because it works! I bring an understanding of relationships to all of my clients as well as an understanding of what people do that works and what doesn’t.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to feel important. Often people get into trouble because they don’t think they matter.
This is the foundation of my work. I believe that ALL of my clients know they matter to me. Then we can build on that. The relationship that people have with their therapist is the role model for their other relationships.
Picking a therapist, in my opinion, is like picking a neurosurgeon. You go where the work is good not where it is convenient and you do your best to buy the best help you can get because bad therapy is much worse than no therapy at all!