How to Create Lasting Change through Therapy

How to Create Lasting Change Through Therapy

After 20 years as a therapist, I know a few things about how to promote lasting change through therapy. I wrote a post called How to Succeed in Therapy and another one called How to Get the Most Out of Therapy. But there are still a couple things worth emphasizing if you’re serious about changing.

I like to set realistic expectations when I start to work with a new client. I don’t have any magical powers or quick fixes. Change takes hard work. It’s uncomfortable at best, usually downright painful.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll achieve the changes you’re looking for. I’m excellent at facilitating change, providing support and accountability. But the heavy lifting is all you.

Our sessions together are just a starting place. You have to go home and think about things differently and do things differently. That’s the hard part. A lot of the change process happens outside the therapy office. I like to use the analogy of learning to play the piano. Our session is akin to the lesson. You will gain some insights, skills, and a plan for implementing change. If you do little or no practicing between sessions, progress will be slow. And when progress is slow, you are likely to get frustrated, lose hope, and quit.

You can’t make lasting change if you continue to solve your problems with the same ineffective strategies. New behaviors have to be practiced a lot. Change is possible. I’ve seen people undergo life-altering change hundreds of times. And I’m convinced that the key to lasting change is practicing the new behaviors you learn in therapy until they become your new normal.

If you’re ready to change your life for the better, give me a call at 408-982-6535 to discuss how I can support you with your change goals. Or if you’re out of the area (or just not quite ready), join my free e-newsletter for inspiration and helpful tips.

Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.

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