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The Therapist's Role

November 2, 2018

Author: Bianca Yang
Email: ipacifics@gmail.com

The role of the therapist is to help his client rediscover the solution to his problems. I believe that each person has the answers to his questions, worries, and frustrations about himself within him. They have simply erected a mental barrier of fear that prevents them from pursing that solution.

To give a simple example, how many times have you confronted someone, even yourself, regarding procrastination? Surely you and everybody you met knows the solution: just get to work. And yet how often do you see people pursuing the wide, open path that is readily marked and available before them? Perhaps if you dig deeper, they’ll reveal all kinds of other blockages they’ve put before themselves. They’ll say they don’t know enough to get started. They’ll say it will take too much effort to work on that thing. They’ll say they have other, more exciting things to do. They’ll say they don’t have time. They’ll say they’re tired. They’ll say they’re sick. They’ll say they just don’t want to do it. They’ll say they’re afraid of failing. They’ll say they’re afraid of succeeding. On and on, we humans come up with infinite variations of excuses to allow ourselves to act out the law of inertia and stay stuck in a rut.

Here are some suggestions to resolve some of the roadblocks mentioned above. You don’t know how to get started? Well, most of the time, you’re completing the project by another person’s request. Surely you have that person’s contact or can get his contact information and send a request for more details on the project. You’re busy? Well, let’s take a look at your schedule and see how we can move things around to give you time. You don’t want to do it? Let’s think about your priorities in life and see how this project aligns with those priorities. If they don’t, let’s time-box this activity or just not do it. If it’s not a priority, you either shouldn’t be working on it or you should be minimizing time spent on it. You’re afraid of failure? It is better to have failed and have a story to tell, experience to log, than to only have sat on your couch and dreamed.

Which of the above suggestions I have given to potential blockages are novel? Probably none. If they are not novel, the likelihood that you know them or could come up with them on your own is high. The responsibility of the person you go to for help is to push you towards discovering, believing in, and acting upon the solution you choose.

I don’t believe one can change another person directly. Let me give an example. You are arguing with a friend about whether point A or point B is correct. You think point A is correct and have the evidence to back it up. Your friend has personal bias to agree with point B but has no evidence to prove the validity of point B. By the end of your discussion, let’s say your friend comes to believe that point A is correct and that point B is false. To simplify the situation, let there be no ambiguity about whether your friend actually believes in and understands the reasoning for point A. He has completely converted to point A. I don’t believe this conversion occurred directly through you. At some point in the conversation, your friend sifted through all the evidence he’s seen, all the evidence you’ve given him, and decided that point A was logically more sound. Some light bulb went off in his mind, and he had a moment of insight that point A was in the direction of truth. If this example doesn’t make sense, think of the last time something just “clicked” for you. It could be a time when you understood a difficult proof or understood special relativity or figured out what some joke meant. The point I’m trying to make is that in every situation where transfer of information results in a light bulb going off, the information giver’s responsibility was to set up the information receiver to flip the switch themselves.

If you follow the previous paragraph, then it should become clear why I believe the therapist’s role is to help his client rediscover the solution to his problems. The therapist cannot change his client. His client must change himself. The best therapist is one who can help his client make that jump to change himself most efficiently and with the most long-lasting results.