Life Simplified - Winner of 2013 Telly Award

Success Depends On You

Visiting a therapist is not the same as visiting a medical doctor. While the similarity is self-explanatory, the difference is less obvious thus worth noting since many of my past and existing patients do not have a grasp of this subtle yet important disparity. In short, one is interactive and the other is not, and this distinction is absolutely necessary for therapy to succeed.

When visiting a medical doctor, a patient merely expresses one’s ailment as specifically and eloquently as one can whereby the doctor collect symptoms, assesses a diagnosis, and renders a remedy accordingly. If the remedy is medication, the patient takes the prescribed medication and waits for the medication to do its magic. If the remedy is surgery, then the appropriate surgeon proceeds with the necessary medical procedure. In either situation, nothing is expected of the patient but to consent to the procedure or drug and wait for the desired effect to take place.

Seeing a therapist is a bit different. As much as the mental health expert goes through the same motions of collecting symptoms and assessing a diagnosis, the remedy to the patient’s predicament depends more on the patient’s willingness to change than it does on the therapist’s recommendation. The therapist can only show the patient the path to the solution. It is up to the patient to put the necessary efforts together in getting to the promise land.

Many patients come into my office, tell me about their situation, and sit back expecting that everything will be alright after that. The only thing I can do is to provide them with a solution with which they can fix their problem. Unfortunately, that is only the first step, and it is a small step. The important step in my relationship with a patient is when they commit to a treatment and I guide them through the maze and get them to the solution. This cannot happen unless the patients are willing to make the necessary steps to change. I cannot do what they are not willing to do for themselves, and neither can their friends, mates, or family members. This is their journey and they must make the sacrifice. Therapy requires a great deal of participation from the patients in their own betterment. It is interactive in the sense that the therapist sets the platform and the patient implements it. This is the only therapist/patient relationship that can and ought to exist.

My advice to all potential patients is that if you are not willing to do the hard work, then me, or any other therapist, telling you the solution would be completely useless. So, before you embark on a therapeutic journey, be sure you are committed to change.

About the author

Dr. Tseday is a clinical psychologist and one of the country's leading experts in marriage, relationships, and self development. She advocates a unique and at times controversial approach to the dynamics of marriage and personal development, the necessary element for a successful relationship. Read more »

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