We have to do the work

by | 2 May 2017 | 5 comments

Therapy is hard work.

But often it’s the therapist who feels it most. It’s the therapist who anguishes in supervision over whether they’re doing the right thing, saying the right thing, responding in the right way. They doubt themselves, yearn for progress, hurt with the suffering of their client.

As the client, we look to therapy as the answer. We need something to solve this suffering. Surely therapy is it? We go, we sit, we talk. And nothing changes.

Is this the right therapy for us? Is it the right therapist? Do they know what they’re doing? Why aren’t we getting any better?

But trauma recovery is sometimes like weight loss. We want to lose weight; we may even need to lose weight. We like the idea of what we will look like, feel like, when we’ve lost weight. So we go to therapy, and we see the therapy as the diet.

But the therapy isn’t the diet. The therapy is just the encouragement and the support to change what we eat.

And the therapist can’t do it for us. They can advise us on low-calorie foods. They can help us set meal plans, explore why we overeat. They can suggest new menus, identify triggers for over-eating, educate us on different food groups.

But they can’t lose the weight for us.

It’s still up to us to eat less. It’s still up to us to do the work.

And the same is true for trauma therapy. The therapist can’t solve it for us. The therapist can’t take the pain away. The therapist can’t make us feel loved and cherished in a way that rewrites our childhood.

The therapist can only be with us on the journey. They can cheer from the sidelines, challenge us, confront us, reassure us, encourage us. But they can’t recover for us.

If we want to recover from abuse, we have to stop abusing ourselves. We won’t recover if we just insist that the therapist makes us feel loved to the same degree that we felt abused. We have to learn to love ourselves. The therapist is a guide and a mentor, but their empathy does not negate the calories in a doughnut. It’s up to us to choose what to feed ourselves.

We have to do the work.

CAROLYN'S BOOKS

FEATURED ONLINE TRAINING

5 Comments

  1. Barbara Jukes

    We have to change by ourselves, but we don’t have to do it alone!

    Reply
  2. Fiona

    Thank you for this – it reminded me to take a breath, roughy to conscious level a realization I have to ‘ stop abusing’ myself, I have
    ‘To love’ myself coz I have been inviting trauma back in unconsciously

    Reply
  3. Lorraine

    Very helpful advise I will take it on board and use it.

    Reply
  4. Jo sutton

    I been in therapy for a long time now and I work my but off even when I think I can do no more my therapist tells me I can she haves faith in me! It’s only when I stopped abusing myself did change begin….

    Reply
  5. Windblows

    I have never had therapy for my real issues and the therapists I have encountered never complete what they start.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More from Carolyn...

Suicide – to be or not to be?

I could cope with it no longer. Every part of me—eyelids, throat, bowels—everything was clenched tight in a ball of furious unbearability. This feeling—such a feeling!—loomed up over me like some prehistoric sea-monster, ready to snap me up and devour me, ready to pilfer my bones and pick apart my brain. This feeling was too much.

Managing flashbacks

Coming to terms with flashbacks—understanding what they are, learning how to manage them, and eventually figuring out how to reduce them—is a cornerstone of recovery. Carolyn Spring explains what goes in the brain during a flashback and how to learn to manage them.

‘Don’t make me vomit slowly’ – my experience of phase two work

When I first started therapy in 2006, I didn’t know much about trauma and nothing about ‘the three phase approach’. My counsellor didn’t know much more. So although I’d like to say that we started by carefully doing the Phase 1 work of safety and stabilisation, the reality was a great deal messier than that.