NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Psychotherapy as a Co-Created Process Between the Client and the Psychotherapist - Part 1

In prior articles, I discussed some of the myths and misconceptions that people often have about psychotherapy (see my articles:Common Myths About Psychotherapy: Going to Therapy Means You're "Weak"Common Myths About Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy Takes a Long Time and Common Myths About Psychotherapy: Therapy is "All Talk and No Action").  In this article, I'm focusing on another myth that many people, especially if they've never been in therapy, which is that therapy is something that happens to them as opposed to therapy being a co-created process between the client and the psychotherapist.

Psychotherapy as a Co-Created Process Between the Client and Psychotherapist

What Does It Mean that Psychotherapy is a Co-Created Process?
As opposed to going to see a medical doctor or your dentist, good therapy is a collaborative process between the client and the psychotherapist.

In other words, in good therapy the client and the therapist work in an interactive and dynamic way to help the client to define and resolve his or her problems.

In the past, psychotherapy was a more hierarchical process where psychotherapists believed they knew what was best.  They made interpretations about clients' problems and expected the client to either agree with the interpretations or work on the clients' resistance to the therapist's interpretations (see my article: Contemporary Psychotherapy: Redefining the Traditional View of "Resistance" in Therapy).

There are still some psychotherapists who work this way, and it works for some clients.  But the vast majority of clients want a more collaborative process where the client and the therapist both have input into defining the problem and working on a resolution.

Psychotherapy as a Collaborative Process Rather Than Something That is "Done" to You
Rather than seeing the psychotherapist has someone who has "all the answers," most clients are comfortable with the idea that the psychotherapist has a particular expertise in helping clients to work through their problems, but they also recognize that, as clients, they need to participate in the process (see my article: Why It's Important For Psychotherapists NOT to Have "All the Answers").

Rather than seeing therapy as something that is "done" to them, clients who have experience with contemporary psychotherapy know that the therapist can help to facilitate the process, suggest certain ways of working in therapy, help the client to develop coping mechanisms and internal resources, help the client to develop insight into his or her problems, assist the client to make changes, and point out self defeating patterns or defense mechanisms getting in the way, but the therapist can't tell you what to do or wave a magic wand to make the problems go away.

I'm mentioning this because many clients who have had brief experiences with psychotherapy will often say that they left a particular psychotherapist because the therapist didn't tell the client "what to do."

Similarly, people who have never been in therapy might expect the therapist to give them advice.

It's easy to see why people with no or only brief experience with psychotherapy might think that the therapist is responsible for giving advice or resolving problems.  These clients might have gone to school counselors or other types of counselors in the past where advice is often given.

But psychotherapy is different from counseling in that psychotherapists help clients to explore problems and come up with solutions as a result of that exploration, but they don't tell you what to do.

This is why it's so important for psychotherapists to provide clients with psychoeducation during the initial phase of psychotherapy, especially for clients who have little or no experience with psychotherapy (see my article: Why It's Important For Psychotherapists to Provide Clients With Psychoeducation About How Psychotherapy Works).

In my next article, I'll discuss further aspects of the co-created process in psychotherapy.

Getting Help
Everyone needs help at some point in life.

Often, family and friends aren't helpful for particular problems and you need the help of a licensed mental health professional.

Many people avoid starting psychotherapy because they have misconceptions about therapy or they don't know what to expect (see my article:  The Benefits of Psychotherapy).

When you see a psychotherapist for an initial consultation, you would benefit from asking questions about psychotherapy, the therapist's background and training, and how this particular therapist works.  You're not only entitled to know these things, you will benefit from knowing it.

Rather than suffering on your own, you could benefit from seeking help from a skilled psychotherapist who can help you to work through your problems (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

See my article: 
Psychotherapy as a Co-Created Process Between the Client and the Psychotherapist - Part 2