There’s a misconception about therapy that I suspect puts a lot of people off. It’s that picture of a therapist sitting with their hands on their lap, displaying every bit of “attentive body language” they learned in therapy school and saying “Hm, well how do you think you should feel? Hm, well what do you think you should have said? Hm, well how do you think your parents affected the way you view relationships?” It’s a damaging perception that the therapist is nothing more than an expensive mirror – who doesn’t actually say anything helpful or constructive, just passively listens, absorbs and then asks you the same question back.
If that was the case, there’d be no point in going to see a therapist, and every point in spending more time talking to yourself in the mirror – in which case, you should probably see a therapist. Yes, in therapy you evaluate why you think, say, and do the things you do, but you reach conclusions with your therapist, and – certainly in the experiences of the seven men and women ahead – the therapist is active, giving advice, being constructive, offering solutions tailored to your needs.
Often, these solutions come in the form of practical “takeaways”, a bit like mantras that make particular sense to that person. Ahead, we asked eight men and women to share their takeaways – the phrases given to them by their therapists that helped them the most.
Therapy can be painful, upsetting, uncontrollable and exhausting, but it can also be a lifeline. And, if you find the right therapist, they can become an active hero in the story of your life.