Don’t Shoot the Messenger

I have been a therapist for a long time, but I will never be able to solve people’s problems.  I talked about finding a therapist, and how to get the most our of treatment, but I am very aware of the fact that I don’t have all the answers.  I wish I did.  Many people come to me and believe that in one session, I can solve all their problems, but there is no easy button for life.

Making changes in your life is hard, and it takes time.  So many times I encounter people who are looking for quick fixes.  With things set on turbo these days, it’s no wonder that people want everything now, but struggle to put in the time to get there.  There was a commercial on TV where a man stood on a scale to weight himself, walks around the room and then weighs himself again and hits the scale when he hasn’t lost weight.

Therapy is very much like losing weight.  It takes time, energy, and pain at times.  If you have a trainer, they can give you the tools, show you what to do, help keep you motivated, but they can’t do the work.  You  have to be ready for that.  No matter how good a therapist is, they can’t fix your life.  They can’t make you think about things differently.  They can’t be with you all day to keep you from making bad decisions.  They can give you tools to help you change your life, but they can’t do it for you.

This is a good time to talk about the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a clinical social worker.  A psychiatrist can prescribe medication.  Years ago, psychiatrists also saw people for therapy.  They worked with people to improve skills, but also prescribed medication to manage chemical imbalances that affected people’s mental health.  These days, psychologists and social workers provide the therapy, because psychiatrists are so busy with all the medications available, they no longer have time.

Psychologists are formally trained to provide therapy, but they also do testing related to IQ, functioning, and many other deeper tests.  Clinical social workers are trained for therapy, but they are also trained to assist with many other social issues that people face, like homelessness.  Psychologists and social workers provide therapy, but they do not prescribe medication.  They also are not generally depicted in movies with the traditional therapy couch, but they are just as qualified to provide support and help to make changes in your life.

People come to therapy for many different reasons.  They come with medical problems, depression, anxiety, social issues, relationship issues, and all have a different level of readiness for treatment.  They come for answers and hope, and the therapists of the world, do their best to provide what they need.  I can’t say that every therapist is good for every person, and every therapist has good and bad days, but they are always human.  Don’t take your anger out on them, when they are trying to help.  As a therapist, I take a lot of anger and hate, and lots of blame, and I do the best I can to let it roll off.  Don’t shoot the messenger that is challenging you thoughts about things and trying to help you change your life.  Don’t blame the person that trying to help for your problems.  They can help if you let them, but you have to let them.  Let them help you.  They can if you do.