Myth Madness: ‘The Therapist Has It All Worked Out’

stack of suitcases

Myth No. 6: “The therapist has it all worked out, is with it, wise, together, and evolved.

Reality: Therapists are people, too. Our culture has elevated therapists to the point where people assume they are somehow gifted with special powers of intelligence, wisdom, or insight, assume they have their “stuff” together, and as a result, many feel intimidated by them. To set the record straight, therapists, like the general population, don’t start out having their “stuff” together. In fact, they typically have more “stuff” than the average bear, depending on whether the therapist has done his or her own therapy.

Why don’t most therapists start out having their “stuff” together? Most therapists are drawn to the field because they’ve been tossed around by life, burdened, hurt, and wounded. The ones with the courage to do their own work, to go to therapy, to look into and feel themselves, can become, as Ernest Hemingway alluded to, “stronger at the broken places” and, as Viktor Frankl so eloquently put it, “shine brighter because they’ve endured burning.” A wounded healer is the best healer. Such therapists are intimately familiar with the path of becoming conscious of and caring for the pain they’ve harbored. This is why the issues a therapist specializes in treating are typically a reflection of his or her own wounds, and makes them particularly adept at helping people who are experiencing something similar to the therapist’s own drama.

Why do people expect therapists to have it all together? My hunch is that often children are burdened with feeling inferior, looking up to someone who is bigger, stronger, smarter, and more powerful. In fact, most of us spend a good portion of our lives seeking redemption in things outside of ourselves, and it’s not until middle age that we begin to see that everyone is a little messed up. Given this tendency to seek redemption, it’s no wonder people expect redemption from their therapist. Narcissistic therapists and Dr. Phil types certainly don’t help challenge the stigma.

Anyway, the point is to discourage people from looking for answers or redemption from their therapist.

Editor’s note: For more articles examining common myths and fears surrounding psychotherapy, please click here.

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  • Gregory

    Gregory

    October 12th, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    So if we aren’t to look for answers here, then what are we supposed to be looking for?
    I am not seeking redemption, I’ll give you that, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little guidance and some answers to my pressing issues. . . right?
    If I had all the answers, then I wouldn’t be going to a therapist in the first place

  • cole

    cole

    October 13th, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    @gregory- I think that the real issue at hand is that some people expect their therapist to give them the answers to life on a silver platter and that’s not how therapy works. Your therapist, in a best case scenario, is yes, going to have some wonderful ideas and suggestions for you, but it is not up to them to put you on the road to success. That’s your job/. They can help you through it, but again, the work to get there is all yours. Does that make sense? To think that just because you are going to someone who is a licensed therapist means that they have all then answers to life’s questions is ridiculous. No one has that- they are simply the ones who are the best educayed to help get you there the least unscathed.

  • Eli E

    Eli E

    October 14th, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    It’s all about expectations and what you expect to get out of your therapy sessions and the relationshop with your therapist. If you expect him to give you the world in one sitting, then you will be severaly disappointed. But if you expect smaller pieces to that world to start to come together? Then you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

  • Arielle

    Arielle

    October 14th, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Personally, I see a therapist as someone who is always searching, always learning, and always listening. They may have it together and they may not. Don’t we all have days like that? Don’t we all deserve to have days like that no matter our profession?

  • hans

    hans

    October 16th, 2013 at 2:16 AM

    a therapist is there to help me! if he does not know the way then why consult him? ok he may not know it all but that level of confidence is necessary when i am trying to handle you the responsibility that is so important to me!

  • Jan

    Jan

    November 11th, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    This therapist crashed and burned after 37 years in the field. So broken that I’m applying for SSDI. Took care of everyone else but me. Ready to be a Walmart greeter or something else with little to no stress, until I can get myself back together and decide what I want to do.

  • lalalaland

    lalalaland

    February 10th, 2017 at 8:10 AM

    Great writing. Thanks so much. Please publish this material in a place where many consumers can see it. It would be a wonderful good deed and it is pretty much a necessity!!!!!!!!!

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