The Secret to Successful Therapy

I often share with clients that therapy is a two way street: my clients bring their courage to change, and I bring my expertise and tools of support.

As much as I love helping hurting people heal, grow and thrive, and though I have focused tools and a solid treatment plan to support the individuals and couples I work with, I do not have a magic wand in my tool box. In fact, no therapist does.

If you are working with me in therapy, this is going to be a process about healing, change and growth. I am gently relentless with clients and their stated goals. In fact, I let clients know in session #1, "There will be some sessions where you leave and think I am the next best thing to sliced bread, and other sessions where you leave and you are cursing my name."

I don't take it personally when clients express frustration with my focus on their forward movement. I am 100% committed to my client's stated goals, but...I will not work harder than them.

A therapy relationship is a unique and sacred relationship. While I am psychologically close to my clients, and I have clinical love for the people I am honored to support, we are not buddies, we are not family, and we are not here to discuss the weather. We are a team focusing on the areas in your life that you want to improve. My expectation is that clients, over time and with support, are willing to roll up their sleeves and help me help them.

My clients who are most successful in their work do three things:

1. They make a courageous commitment to their therapy process;

2. They accept responsibility for their changes; 

3. They manage expectations for instant gratification. 

Finally, being gentle with yourself in the therapy process is so important. The clients I work with understand that progress happens over time when they are committed to doing the work. We focus on small changes that support their larger goals.

In this age of instant gratification, deep and lasting change is possible if you are willing to reach out, ask for help, and take some time to do the work for a while. Therapy need not last forever! However, having a trusted and supportive counselor to guide you and encourage you for a season in your life can make all the difference. It is about progress and baby steps forward, not perfection.

Think you are ready for therapy? These are important questions to answer honestly:

1. Are you ready for change?

2. Are you willing to do the work?

3. What are you willing to change?

What do you think about therapy and goals? Do you think the job of a therapist is to instantly change your life? I'd love to have you share below...

Kindly and in support,

Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S