Clients can often feel motivated to start therapy in the new year, a time of year when there is a focus on change and self-improvement. This can create an expectation that the therapeutic process will also be positive, fulfilling and effortlessly transformative. As soon as it turns out not to be, or difficulties are experienced, it can lead to the temptation to abandon the endeavour – along with the other new year resolutions that have fallen by the wayside.
Expectations of change and what can be achieved through therapy always need to be carefully monitored and managed if they are to remain realistic. Whilst I can understand the client’s eagerness for change, which is what might have motivated them to come into therapy in the first place, my experience tells me that the process of more meaningful change can take longer and be more involved.
One of the real benefits of therapy is that the difficulties encountered along the way are experienced with the therapist. This means that they might be experienced differently than they would if the client felt isolated, alone and burdened with their difficulties and issues.
I believe it is the collaborative nature of the endeavour, one that the client and therapist co-create together in a very subjective way, that allows for more interesting possibilities to emerge that really are meaningful, long-lasting and deeply transformative.