ONE OF THE CHALLENGES OF MAKING PROGRESS IN THERAPY
So often clients want takeaways from their sessions. Advice, suggestions, insights… I understand. I want it too.
We want progress.
The type of therapy I practice usually involves great gains in the first 10 sessions.
It’s an opportunity to be heard, to express feelings you can’t always express.
Often there are big insights and connections.
And often, after about 10 sessions (and that is a huge generalization), the “progress” slows.
What do I mean by this? I mean the feeling that after every session we “got somewhere”.
This can be really frustrating. And disorienting.
Why come to a session if you don’t get anywhere? What is the point of talking about all this stuff?
Here’s the reframe:
If we come to therapy wanting to shift something... relationship patterns, a sense of meaning, depression…
There is something we don’t understand. Our being is not transparent to us. That’s the current situation.
It’s a big situation. It’s your whole self over your whole life coming to this place to figure something out that is of utmost importance to you.
There is no way it can all be figured out in an hour. Or ten hours.
The process of deep change in psychotherapy requires that we hold a certain degree of uncertainty.
It requires that we hold a certain degree of not understanding.
The first step is often to make this lack of understanding explicit.
"This is a mystery."
“I wonder what is happening here?”
We have to lay out the mystery - all the pieces. It takes time.
It’s hour by hour work.
Bearing the fact that we don’t understand something is an acknowledgment of our own complexity.
A complex problem takes time.
Our culture doesn’t support this place well.
We need to have updates, opinions, actions.
We need to get value for money.
We need to buy things.
But what if right now you just don’t know the answer?
You have certain feelings and certain circumstances.
You might be having a dream or two. Or a fantasy or a daydream.
You know you want to work this out - that’s something you know.
But the way forward - the answer - it’s just not clear at all.
This is a real state!
This is in process.
It’s the thing before it looks like the thing.
We can let this be real. We have to let this be real.
Because flowers don’t just appear - they sprout and grow and then bloom.
Laying out all the pieces, turning over all the stones… this collects into something.