It happens all the time… a client looks me square in the eye and with an authentic pleading tone they say “Please just tell me what to do!” I know this phrase so well… because I have also said it to my therapist. Sometimes things are so hard we just want some guidance. It isn’t as if we are looking for someone to dictate our every move, but we want someone else to shoulder the burden. This is totally understandable, human, and natural. It also means that as far as the therapist-client relationship goes, you are probably going to hate me in the moment, and love yourself later for the answer I return to those longing filled eyes.
I deeply respect individual choice, mood, and thought. I don’t pretend not to have opinions or values. I clearly do and those that choose me as a therapist know that I’m sex-positive, direct, and extremely honest. I’m not afraid to push. However, there are lines that I do not cross. Part of this is empowering each person to make their own decisions and not claiming to know better than the client what is best for them.
It is almost a cliche at this point, but it still stands as a truth, that you will learn so much more when you figure things out for yourself rather than have someone else tell you. Not to mention, most of the time even when someone does tell us, we don’t listen, we just wait for our own integration to hit! This is how it should be. We need to figure out our own ideas, values, and emotions.
So, even when you ask me what I think, I’ll turn it back around on you. This is not meant to be cruel, as a trick, or to dodge the topic. It is that as a therapist with integreity, I believe in the strength of each person to figure out their own way. If you want someone to tell you what to do there are many a friend and family member that I’m sure would be happy to do the job.
It is not my job to dictate what you should be doing. Rather, it is my job to help you find your core strengths, use them to make choices, and act in a way that works best for your life. I’m all about looking at the situation as a whole and providing opening to new patterns, thoughts, and expressions. I’m here to also give you support when things feel overwhelming.
Believe me when I say this… your words state that you want me to tell you what to do, but that is just one frustrated moment in time. After that moment passes, there is a respect for yourself that comes when you use your own judgement to decide what is right and wrong for your life.
And that is the magical part of therapy, I get to watch each person come into their own sense of self. I don’t want mindless clients. I want to encourage independent thought, strength, and action. Even though it hurts me to not give a client what they want in that situation, I’m proud to say I always give a client what they need to reach their goals with strength and dignity.