Is there an expert in the therapy room?
If you are expecting a psychotherapist to be and authority or an expert, this may be useful.
When clients come to therapy, the questions they most often pose are:
- can you help?
- am I normal?
It would be easy on the basis of this to fall into the trap of thinking that the therapist or counsellor is an expert, holding a cure that they administer for the client in the same way as a medical doctor might be able to.
Thankfully counselling and psychotherapy are not like this. The 'treatment' is a joint endevour between two people, both working hard to achieve the goals and outcomes that the client has identified.
The therapist may well have long experience of working with people with symptoms that have some similarity to the clients, and may well be able to ask questions and offer things to consider that prompt the client to explore different perspectives, different ways of behaving, and different ways of relating to themselves. What matters most however, is the client finding the ways forward that fit congruently for them, that dovetail with their personality, preferences and way of being in the world. Psychological solutions from outside of us rarely make a difference, it is when we make them our own that they get traction and stick.
Similarly, a counsellor may well be able to let a client know that the way they are responding to life is within the range of responses that could reasonably be expected in their circumstances. However, what they can not do is make this feel OK or normal for a client if it does not feel OK on the inside. That is a journey that only the client can take, with our support and encouragement.
I am a deep believer in the benefits of counselling and psychotherapy, both from my own experiences as a client, and from the work I do with my own clients. The most consistent indicator of the effectiveness of therapy in my experience is the level of commitment and action of the client. It really is a case of the more you put in, the more you get out. After all, you really are the most informed expert on the subject of you.