"Curiosity is the answer"; It is a funny phrase, doesn't curiosity mean asking questions?
When I first started practicing as a clinician, and my clients, or potential clients would ask me
"how does psychotherapy work?"
"how will I know if I am benefitting from psychotherapy?"
"will I have to be in therapy forever?" I always tried to have sophisticated answers. I knew, these question were going to be asked at least once a week, so I prepared. I practiced my elevator pitch, fine tuned it, perfected it. When the moment arose, and the questions were asked, I was fully prepared to "sell therapy." As I became a more seasoned clinician, and I retired from being the sales rep for psychotherapy, and got tired of convincing others about why they should see a psychotherapist (I know, I know, we have all been there) the answer to all these questions came to me in one word. Curiosity. That's all. Simple as that. The client and the therapist, together, actively practicing curiosity.
I am not negating the importance of theory, training, education, and having a conceptual framework of a client's presenting issue. However, at the forefront, curiosity should lead the way.
Curiosity is key. The most essential ingredient in the therapy room is the freedom to "get curious" and to ask questions. With that in mind, today if you asked me, here are my answers to the common questions asked about psychotherapy.
How does psychotherapy work?
By you being curious about yourself. And most important, by your therapist being truly curious about you, and about everything (thoughts, emotions, fantasies, behaviors, desires, goals, fears, motivations, secrets... ) that makes you who you are.
How will I know if I am benefitting from psychotherapy?
If your goal is to find answers within yourself, and your method of finding these answers is through being curious and asking questions, then every time you leave your therapists office, you will have achieved a goal. We think of finding answers to ourselves as huge revelations. But that is not the case. You will have some "aha" moments, but overall, it is those small nuances that we discover that add to the picture of who we are. Or those affirmations that we feel, when we can say “I sort of always knew that, but now I can own it, it makes sense to me."
Will I have to be in therapy forever?
That decision is always up to you. If your motivated to continuously learn more and more about yourself, then that process is never ending. The choice is yours. However, when you feel that you've lost your curiosity or that your therapist has lost their curiosity about you, it is time to take a break or terminate treatment.
And just one more question I am often asked:
How do you have the stamina to wait for change to happen, doesn't it sometimes take years?
Well, not to sound redundant. But I am driven and motivated by my own curiosity. I show up because I want to learn more and more about my clients. It isn't about achieving a goal or hitting a milestone; It's about the human connection of truly getting to know someone and being in the presence of individuals who are willing to ask themselves some very difficult and painful questions. So no, it does not take years, in almost every session (not all, but many) I, together with my clients, experience the reward of true human connection.