Why Psychotherapy is Not a Quick Fix

Why psychotherapy is not a quick fix

We live at a fast pace. We want it fast and done with immediate results. We want easy solutions that come in the form of a pill. And when it hurts, we just want it to stop or feel numb until it disappears. But it doesn’t work like that in psychotherapy. Why can’t psychotherapy be a band-aid like everything else out there?

Last month I took professional training on psycho-educational testing from Dr. Tali Shenfield, so I asked her thoughts on this. I really liked her answer: Sometimes, you can “stop the pain” and fix apparent problems in just a couple of sessions but it wouldn’t last. Because you just can’t sweep the dirt under the rug and not expect it to blow up in your face one day.

The diagram “Being Defensive” at the bottom of this post is the best visual representation of psycho-therapeutic view of the person, looking at this diagram you can immediately understand why the path to “real you”  takes so much time. It’s going to hurt a bit more before it feels better I have patients accusing me of making them feel worse than when they first walked through my office’s door step. And then I say, it usually hurts a bit more before it can start to heal. But this time, it’s going to heal for good.

Do they start looking extremely suspicious at me and with that face “I’m never coming back”? Yes. But then comes the explanation. Think about a profound wound in your body. It’s an open wound and it’s infected. Would you stitch yourself up before cleaning the wound? Before making sure you got rid of all the necrotic tissue? Does it hurt to clean a wound? Sure it does. But that the only way to make sure it heals properly and doesn’t go any deeper to make worse damage.

Starting to make a bit more sense?

Of course there’s always a little something called the relief of symptoms. It allows you to work on your issues. It’s practically impossible to get to the root of anxiety during a panic attack. Makes sense to relief symptoms first and then work on the origin.

Why do psychotherapy at all?

Solutions don’t come easy, it hurts, there’s no pill to make the pain go away or solutions magically appear… Why invest your time and money on psychotherapy?

I’m going to give you 3 reasons:

  • It works. Research on psychotherapy has more than proven results. And on some studies with similar effects to a drug therapy.
  • You become aware. So it won’t happen again, so you can break your behavior cycle. Do you want to be stuck repeating the same thing over and over again and always obtaining the same results? That’s a bit crazy, wouldn’t you say?
  • It has lasting changes. Once you’ve walked that path, you can’t go back. You find new ways, you use new tools, and you change your habits… How can you go back?

Here’s a small confession from a psychotherapist:

You don’t come to therapy to have your therapist do your work for you, you go to therapy so your therapist can make you work and deal with your issues. Yes, you’re paying to do the work yourself.

The most interesting advice I got from one of my clinical supervisors was: you will know you’re not doing a good job, when you’re working harder than your patients. And another one told me that in order to really help people, I had to think of myself as a “thinking machine”, I help people think and get their own answers, not give them for them.

Is psychotherapy the hard way? Definitely. But it is a life-changing one.

How Psychotherapy Sees You

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