What does it mean to be successful in therapy? That's a tricky question because each of us has unique issues and success means different things to different people. And what brings someone into therapy is also a unique situation. To one person it might be to get along better with his spouse. For another, to explore why anxiety is ever-present in her life. For someone else, it's learning to deal with the emotional scarring of a difficult childhood. Everyone has a different issue, so everyone must have a different definition of what success means in therapy. Or do they?
Ultimately, even though we all have different stories, the one common question is: "Do I have less pain/fear/emotional upset, etc. since I've been working on myself in therapy? " I content that if that answer is Yes, then the therapy is proving successful. Everyone who comes to therapy usually has an issue they're struggling with in their life. Perhaps they can't connect effectively with their spouse. Perhaps they have panic attacks that keep them from living a full life. Perhaps their work-situation has become intolerable and they don't know what to do to make things better. Whatever the reason that someone comes to therapy, everyone wants wants the same thing -- relief. Relief from pain. Relief from fear. Relief from whatever is in his or her way.
That is why no matter what therapist you go to, no matter what help is given, it all comes down to this... has therapy helped relieve your pain? Like any process, it might seem worse at first as your explore old wounds, and what brought you to where you are now. However, ultimately, successful therapy means helping you alleviate your pain/fear, etc. It's about giving you back the things you lost. It's about helping you clear away the issues that are holding you back, and letting you move forward into a brighter future.
Most of us spend time thinking and reflecting about our lives. And some of us are disappointed, or feeling as if we didn't accomplish the things we wanted to accomplish. Well, guess what? We're not dead yet! If you have something that you've always wanted to do, but haven't, maybe now's the time. Did you ever want to write a book? Perhaps you wanted to go horseback riding, but haven't gotten around to it. Sky diving? Okay, let's not go overboard, but if you have a dream, why not? We sometimes think we have all the time in the world to do the things we dreamed of doing. Well, that's not true. We all get older, and the older we get, the more set in our ways we tend to become. But as I said at the beginning of this post, we're not dead yet! So... Why not go for it?
None of us know what the future holds, so if you have a list of dreams you want to accomplish in your lifetime, perhaps now's the time to get started. Remember, it's one thing to dream your dreams, but the real key is being able to take action. I'm sure there were many people who have had big dreams they never attempted. You don't have to be one of them. You can start actualizing your dreams, just by taking concrete steps toward them. So, what are you waiting for? The world is yours, you just have to get started!
David Schwartz, M.S., LMFT
David brings a wealth of life experience to his therapy practice. In addition to his therapy training, David has been a self-motivated entrepreneur for over 20 years, as well as working as a producer in the television industry.
David Schwartz, MS., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist # 87261 -
30961 Agoura Rd., Suite 215, Westlake Village, CA 91361