How Therapy Works
By: Javan
March 24, 2013

Marital, individual, couples or family therapy is designed to help you identify personal struggles and make healthy changes. Therapy is not just about a painful childhood. Many of my clients have what they call “a normal childhood.” Some of my clients have challenging and painful childhoods. ALL of my clients want to have a healthier marriage.

The first step in good therapy for all clients is a thorough assessment. A good understanding of your pain, your life, and how you came to be in this world provides a broad scope of who you are and how you work within your life today. I’l use the car trouble analogy throughout this blog to make a point. If you started to have car trouble, you would need a mechanic to diagnose and assess for what is NOT working. You wouldn’t drive a car down the road without a tire, with the bumper dragging along the road, or with smoke bellowing out from under the hood. It might move, but you would feel extremely anxious and worried about whether or not you were going to get where you intend to go.

You need to understand, identify, and know what is NOT working in your car that’s keeping you from your journey. When you go to a mechanic, a diagnostic analysis tells you and the mechanic what is NOT working. I’d like to emphasize this again, you and I need to know what is NOT working and why. This is the best and only way to understand what new parts or repairs your car needs to get you back on the road.

You can’t just tape up your bumper, replace the wrong parts with shiny new parts and expect the car to run well. How you assess what the car might need is extremely crucial in deciding which parts to remove and what to simply repair. Good therapy requires a similar process or journey.

Many times a client is in so much pain and discomfort, I hear, “Well, I want/need change now!” The same logic applies. Any kind of change is not good, unless it’s the healthy and appropriate change. Therapy does not work if you throw a bunch of trial and error behavioral modifications into the mix. That just creates more feelings of disappointment and results in added frustration, compounding the issue. You didn’t get here over night, so the change won’t be overnight either.

As a therapist, my goal is to understand how you came to be who you are so your spouse or family can understand you. Or so you can understand yourself better.  Whatever brought you to therapy matters. It’s your pain, your desire to change, your willingness to learn, and your commitment to therapy that will determine your success. I begin with a diagnostic tool called a genogram. After one or two sessions, a blank family tree comes to life with color, codes, people, stories…… a broad picture of you.

I listen to your pain, in every session. I want to be able to understand how you are coming into pain. I identify the issues/challenges that you may not see yet. We build trust during each session, so you may break through the challenges and defense mechanisms. This is different with each person. Whether it’s relationship struggles or personal struggles, I can identify the patterns and defense mechanisms that keep your wants and needs out of reach. I can tie your childhood needs and pain to your current life. This is the deep rooted normal that came to be in your life. I can help you change your old normal that isn’t working for you into new normals. At Family Tree Counseling, we call these healthy changes.  Changes that are in unison with your heart and mind.

The goal at Family Tree Counseling is to help you make the healthy, long lasting changes that will become the new normal. Once we can name, identify, and understand the old normal and the old ways, the process of gaining new normals can begin. They are not the same for everyone. This process can happen in a safe, confidential, supportive environment in the therapy office. The old, normal parts that once worked in your car, now require replacements. This time we can work together to give you something more, more fuel efficient, maybe turbo charged if you prefer, maybe a softer ride, maybe bigger clearer windows for better visibility. Therapy can take you as far as you are willing to go in your life. It’s up to you! What would you like your new normal to be?