“If you just set people in motion they’ll heal themselves.”
– Gabrielle Roth
Many young mental health practitioners come into the field with what they believe are the noblest of intentions, but if they were really honest with themselves they would see that they are covering up a darker reason for going into a helping profession.
They like the idea of being someone who is a ‘fixer’, someone capable of waving a magic wand and curing the many psychic maladies plaguing the population. This underlying philosophical belief that they, not their clients, will be largely responsible for therapeutic cure is a huge detriment to the ultimate success of therapy because it leaves clients dependent, believing that change occurred somewhere outside themselves.
As a helping professional you have to leave that narcissistic attitude by the wayside and situate all the responsibility for change exactly where it belongs, which is within the person doing the changing. A lot of therapists make the classic mistake of trying to give a person a fish instead of teach a person to fish. They feel that they are the ones with privileged access to knowledge and that their clients simply wouldn’t be able to understand what is going on. Better to just put psychological theories into action and observe the positive changes that come about.
It makes us feel powerful, almost godlike, to wear the cloak of authority. Some become drunk on the feeling. Their thirst becomes insatiable because it acts as a temporary balm to soothe their inner feelings of powerlessness and insignificance. Believing you have the power to fix someone else is really just a more benevolent form of the sadistic attitude, where you symbolically become bigger by engulfing a smaller entity, making it completely dependent on you.
The conversation has got to be about encouraging rebellion from all the bonds that block growth and self-actualization, not fostering dependence by becoming just one more authority figure in a client’s life. Helping people see that only they can decide upon the course of their lives, even if this decision means blindly following the orders of someone else, can help them summon the courage to raise conscious awareness about their situations and work to effect the change that they want.