What is the point of therapy unless there is a clear measurable goal? A question I have often asked myself and one that I am sure many people who seek therapy ask themselves too. There are many therapeutic approaches that are non-directional, that is the aim is not to direct proceedings but to facilitate change through realization and transference. This is fine and in the right situation with the right client, all is well. However, my clients are generally looking for results, structure and an end game. They are also looking for me to use my skills and experience to help them help themselves. We are companions on the same journey, learning from and helping each other. When needed, I have no issue with direction and using methods akin more to the coaching world. However, there are limits to this. It is not my therapy and it is not my end goal. It is the clients and they are the ones who need to do the lion’s share of the work.
Some people who come into therapy have the misconception that therapists have some magic pill or wand that will magic away their issues without them really doing anything tangible to aid the process. They are simply not prepared for the fact that a time will come when they and only they, will have to take action. Action that they have been putting off and avoiding. Some come into therapy simply to put off and avoid again and some therapists will allow that situation to maintain itself. Some come looking for “quick-fix” solutions and leave disappointed when they are not “fixed” after a few sessions. I make it clear in the initial free consultation that I will do my best to bring a point of awareness, present tools to the client then they must take the lead and take action with me in a supporting role. Sometimes, we must revisit some concepts before they are ready but there are some who know they have to, are ready but choose not to, even when it is very clear that by doing so, progress will be made. These people are stuck and often only change when circumstances take a hand and the free choice they had to change is taken out of their hands. This is about discipline, focus and leadership.
D was great example that is mirrored in the majority of cases I deal with. She WANTED change and was prepared to put in the work. Once she had accepted her reality portrayed yesterday, she was more than willing to take leadership and action. The second part of her case is documented below.
The Case Of D, Part 2:
D realized that the protector voices were driving her thoughts and behavior. She realized that without direction, her thinking “parts” would continue to run amok, compete and conflict with each other and her wishes and needs would be subdued. D needed to show similar leadership skills to an entrepreneurial CEO of a company who manages all the different viewpoints on the “board of directors” and provided strategy for the team. All the while this leadership was lacking, her core wound would be exiled but would reappear when triggered. Her protector voices would make sure she did not have direct access to it. This had been the case since childhood. D needed to work with the voices rather than reject them. They were in essence, part of her. To move forward, the following was done.
- D identified every voice that appeared in different situations. She got to know them, she understood what they were doing, what they were protecting her from and she personified them to make them more “real”. D gave each a personality and name based on how they made her think and behave.
- D accepted that the result of listening to the voices was dysfunctional and lead her into rumination, self-loathing, addiction and endless over-analysis as the voices played “pinball” with her, trying to dominate.
- D brought in a more mindful focussed “staying in the present” approach when triggered. She adopted a tool learnt in therapy to question the voices and ask them directly why she should listen to them, what were they trying to protect her from. She documented the responses and countered in a leadership role, looking at evidence and realism as a base.
- D did not reject her voices, berate or insult them. She accepted that they were part of her and thanked them for their attempts to help her but she was willing to take leadership on this and she wants them to stand down.
- D progressively took definitive action to do the right thing for her, make decisions and face the issues she had been avoiding. Showing this discipline also increased her belief that she was able to take action and meet her needs and those of her son. By doing this, she had direct access to her childhood core wound and worked on it.
The method shown above is a condensed version of many months of work. Many people get stuck between 3 and 4 above and might find it difficult to take action. If you are that person, take that leap. You may not think it but life is better on the other side!