When feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or confused in our lives, we often wish that someone, anyone, would give us a solution for alleviating the discomfort. In states of suffering, we struggle to trust our own choices and vision and it feels as if someone other than ourselves will have a clearer mind and the ability to point the compass in a more productive direction. Quite often clients come to therapy hoping that this is exactly what they are paying their mental health counselor to do for them, thinking, ‘this is an expert, they will surely offer me advice and steer me onto the right path!’ Unfortunately, for those seeking the advice and answers from their therapist they may be initially disappointed in their time vested in therapy. However, there are sound reasons why your therapist doesn’t simply tell you how to manage your life and decisions.
Where mental health providers are, on some level, experts in human behaviors and the workings of the mind, they just are NOT experts on your life, you are! Therapists are trained and encouraged to support clients in uncovering their own answers and coming to their own conclusions regarding their life choices. The beauty in this is that with the right kind of support, validation, affirmation, and therapeutic challenges, ALL individuals have the ability to find their own answers to shape a life and their relationships in ways that are meaningful to them.
Stress most definitely gets in the way of thinking and feeling clearly. This can cause us to feel as if we may never know our way forward. Yet this is your therapist’s best role; to help you lower your distress, show you ways in which to emotionally regulate, and guide you in your choices around self-care. Embracing the tools for managing your mental health with the help of your therapist will eventually lead to the stress softening, the depression lifting and the anxiety settling, then it’s YOU that can begin to pick up the pieces of your life and put them together in a way that feels both empowering and authentic without anyone ever having to tell you what to do!