How to Fail At Therapy

Want to know how to fail at therapy? Read on!

Imagine that you are piloting a boat. You are far from shore and hopelessly lost. Your boating skills are mediocre. Nobody knows where you are. No one is expecting you. And you have no life vests. Your friend gives you all sorts of suggestions to get you to safety.

She suggests you use the compass. You say, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” In reality, you didn’t want to admit that you don’t actually know how to use a compass. Your response is an attempt to cover that up so that you don’t look stupid.

She suggests that you call to shore. You tell her that you don’t have a phone.

She suggests that you light a flare. You respond that you don’t want to do that because you don’t think it will do any good.

If you keep doing this, you will discount any suggestions that could be helpful because of being unwilling to try. This is a huge success killer!

How you do anything is how you do everything. If you have an unwilling attitude about doing the work of therapy, building relationships, making money, growing your career, or cleaning your house, you’re not going to get very far. Sitting around and talking about what is wrong is just a way to keep things the same. At some point, you have to actually do something to create change.

I am not saying that every idea or intervention is a good one. Sometimes therapy homework suggestions won’t work. Some suggestions won’t fit with who you as a person. Some don’t target the right thing. However, trying something that fails can get you closer to finding something that works. Every attempt gives you feedback.

If an intervention gets you temporary relief, maybe it means you need to do it more often. If an intervention activates stronger resistance, perhaps you are close to the target, but need to go a bit slower or take an easier route. When you get no response at all, you probably should switch tactics. The only way to know is to try.

Knowing everything is an example of your cup being so full that you can’t get any more information in. Empty your cup. Be willing to brainstorm. Participate in the process. Therapy is a team effort. The therapist has a role to play and so does the client. Ask for what you want, then be ready to follow up with some work outside of the session.

Nobody really wants to fail at therapy. It costs too much time and money to throw it all away. Fortunately, the key to success is in your hands. All you have to do to succeed is show up, participate, and follow through. As long as you keep moving, good things will happen eventually.

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