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What Your Therapist Can & Cannot Do For You

by Miriam R Rieck

Lake Travis Counseling Connection

What Your Therapist Can & Cannot Do For You

You've likely made the decision to seek out a therapist because you're struggling with something in your life. The first thing we'd like to tell you is that you are not alone. There are all sorts of people who are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious about their lives, and they're ready for help. There is no shame in asking for help. Remember the same holds true in life as it does on the airplane, you can't help other people unless you help yourself first.

Therapy can be a powerful tool. But it's important to remember that your therapist isn't a miracle worker. You can't simply tell them what you need and have them fix it, because the truth is that they don't have all the answers for or about you—only you do!

Therapy is more than just talking about your problems. It's a journey of self-exploration and growth, one that can be painful and slow, but also incredibly rewarding. As you are probably aware, it is not all sunshine and roses—sometimes it's downright difficult to get the most out of your therapy.

But what does a therapist do? How does therapy work? What can a therapist do for you? And what can't they do? Let's take a look at some of these questions:

What a Therapist Can Do For You:
  • Help You Determine What's Really Going On In Your Life - A therapist can listen to your story and help you understand why certain things happened in your life. They can listen to your problems without judgment and without offering unsolicited advice.

  • Help You Identify Patterns Of Behavior - If you find that your own behaviors are keeping you from being happy or successful a therapist can help guide you toward solutions for the challenges that are causing you pain.

  • Give You Tools To Help You Take Control of Your Emotions - When anxiety, stress, depression, and other emotional stressors begin to have a negative impact on your life, a therapist can be a guide to help you navigate your emotions in a healthy way.

  • Help You Learn To Handle Conflict In A Healthy Way - Conflict resolution is a learned skill. If you have a tendency to lash out at others or you avoid conflict all costs, then a therapist can help you learn how to create and stick to boundaries which will empower you to resolve conflict rather than be negatively impacted by it.

What A Therapist Cannot Do For You:

  • Tell you how to live your life because they’re not the one who gets to decide, you do. You can ask for the advice of your therapist, or ask for assistance in decision-making, but ultimately the choice is up to you.

  • Create a solution for your problems with no input from you. A therapist is not a miracle worker, you can't sit in an appointment and expect to come out at the end of the hour as a changed person if you are not willing to participate in your own well-being. You are going to have to do work, it may not be pleasant to sort through emotions that have been building up, but you must participate in your own treatment in order to resolve them.

  • Fix your relationships Your relationship with your parents or other family members, significant others, friends, co-workers...anybody. However, they may help you to show up differently in these relationships subsequently helping you to repair them yourself.

  • Give you answers without asking questions first (and vice-versa). Remember, in therapy and in life, you are ultimately the one who gets to decide. Asking for help isn't a quick fix, it is meant to help you dive into your emotions, traumas or other mental health concerns and come to a solution that works best for you and your life.

Your therapist is a professional, and you're paying them (or your insurance is) for their expertise and experience. Therapists are trained to help you explore the ways in which your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected and how those connections may be contributing to your current problems. Basically, they help you to know yourself better and to appreciate who you are. Remember, mental health and treatment are just part of your overall physical and mental well-being, and you should not be ashamed to make this a part of your daily self-care and overall wellness practices.


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