The Pace of Therapy

Monday, March 7th, 2011, Written by jackrosenberger

All too often, I hear people comment on how long therapy takes.  Having submitted to years of therapy myself I can appreciate the “When will this end??” feeling. But having sat with people in the process for as long as I have now, it becomes all too clear why the process of therapy takes as long as it does. There are many reasons, and I want to touch on a few of them now.

Finding and recognizing the symptoms

First off, it takes time to recognize what symptoms are and what those symptoms are doing to one’s life.  One has to maintain hope that change is possible. All too frequently, people live with these symptoms for a long enough time that they begin to identify with them; they think of themselves AS their symptoms. They subsequently forget that there is a symptom-free, optimal life.

Family and Friends that enable us

On top of all this, there are all the usual suspects of family and friends who, consciously or not act, as enablers for people’s symptoms. For example, many addictions specialists will tell you that recovery often involves a total rearranging of a person’s social spheres.

Eventually for the patient to live that symptom-free life, they must let go of ALL the things that hinder them from getting there. And “things” can very well include people.

The fear of recovery

Finally, there is the fear. We all react differently to our fears. Some work hard to burst past them, while others succumb to it. Some of those in therapy have a fear of recovery, of becoming well.  And this can take many shapes including the fear of the unknown to fearing that people will not love the new person that emerges from treatment.

Coping with that fear is done at the patient’s own pace. Once they have dealt with the emotion in a healthy way, the process can continue to move forward. But there is no race; the therapist wants the patient to understand that these things take time and no one is judging.

These are just a few of the factors that can slow down the pace of therapy, not to mention the usual interruptions that can get in the way.  Thus, perhaps therapy moves a lot more quickly than we give it credit.  Or perhaps the real secret is:  therapy moves at the pace for which we’re ready, and no faster……or slower.

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