“Why does therapy have to be HARD?” I empathize deeply when clients ask this question. Indeed, therapy can be difficult, scary, exhausting and confusing. Clients exhibit great courage when they are willing to dig deep, to be vulnerable, to feel and examine feelings and experiences that they may much rather hide or avoid. I am not a believer in the “unavoidable necessity” of reliving trauma, or in advocating that the only path to healing is to brave through, yet again, life moments that tore us asunder the first time around. But I do know that therapy asks of us to be honest with ourselves, to face our truths (even if they are messy or ugly or unpalatable to others) and through that examination, to develop an understanding of and compassion for ourselves that helps bring value, purpose and even peace to our lives.
Comedy, Romance, and Thrillers
The therapy hour may not always be a somber place. My office has been the stage for some of the most hilarious stories I have ever heard. I have laughed with clients until tears ran down my face, and we were left wheezing for breath. I’ve hooted and hollered in celebration of clients’ successes, and beamed with joy when I’ve been lucky enough to meet a client’s newborn baby, or to gush over an engagement ring. Therapy is never simple, but the “hardness” of therapy doesn’t automatically mean deep pain or reliving old agonies. If the timing is right, the fit between client and therapist is flexible and connected, productive therapy through difficult terrain more closely resembles the soreness of a good workout. We may feel spent, tender, a little out of breath and perhaps surprised by our efforts. But we also feel accomplished, courageous and proud that we faced, discovered or spoke our truths without turning away. Human beings are resilient creatures. And therapy can be a forum to safely and cooperatively do the “hard” work of mining our psyches and our souls, and unearthing power and potential we never dreamed we contained. A worthy payoff, indeed.