By Shoshana Thaler, MA, NCC, CSAT Candidate
What does it mean to be an effective therapist?
What does it take for you to know that you have been successful?
When your clients come to you for help, what do they expect from you?
“Fix me, heal me, tell me that although I feel broken and irreparably damaged, that you have a magic wand that can do just that.”
And the truth, hard to hear but true nevertheless: a therapist is limited.
These are some of the things we can and cannot provide for our beloved clients:
A therapist hears and sees you,
A therapist makes space for whatever you bring to the room,
A therapist understands you, and knows it is not your fault,
A therapist believes in you no matter what.
A therapist believes in your innate healing power.
A therapist’s job is to stay with you, wherever you are on your journey, to meet you where you’re at without judgment, pushing, forcing, or making you change.
A therapists job is not:
Not to change you, but to hold up the mirror so that you can see what needs changing.
Not to fix you but to help you know that you are fixable, and have the power and strength to be fixed.
Not to push you, but to hold you accountable for the goals you set for yourself.
Not to do the work for you, but to help you explore what prevents you from doing the work.
What does it mean to be a successful therapist?
Does it mean your client who has an addiction stops using, your client who engages in self-harm stops cutting, your client who is suicidal never makes another attempt?
An effective therapist knows that they’ve done their job well if they’ve helped their client process, explore, express, feel, and heal from whatever is holding them back, keeping them stuck.
An effective therapist may not have the power to change their client, but they have made a difference if they were able to stay with and support their client just as they are.