As part of an ongoing series, the staff at Union Square Practice will be sharing their thoughts on an important question: “What makes therapy work?” This week, Michelle Freedland, N.P. shares her thoughts.
Therapy is a highly individualized process, but there are several factors that are common to success in any therapeutic relationship. An awareness of these factors therefore provides an excellent starting point for anyone considering entering into a relationship with a therapist.
The first, and most basic, is the establishment of a trusting relationship between patient and therapist. It cannot be assumed, and must be earned. The patient must understand that the therapist has considerable clinical expertise and is worthy of trust, but at the same time the therapist must understand that the patient’s life experiences are valid and real. This mutual respect creates an environment that catalyzes and favors therapeutic progress.
A second factor is one’s openness to change. Successful therapy requires both an appreciation for discovery—for both the patient and the therapist—and an acceptance of transformation. As therapy unlocks doors, one must be willing to walk through them to reveal new possibilities.
Finally, it’s important to integrate therapy into the fabric of one’s life. Think of it as a continuous process – not a “one-time fix”. Lessons learned at a critical moment can and will prepare one to identify emerging issues and recognize the need for remedial action.
Ultimately, what makes therapy work is a dedication to the process. Change requires an understanding of what causes us to be anxious, troubled or ill. Therapy allows us to address those issues and to make choices that allow us to live productive, meaningful lives.
If you have any other questions about how therapy works, get in touch with me on Twitter @FreedlandMp!