I've been thinking about this lately. Sometimes there is an assumption about therapists...well, actually there are many assumptions made about therapists and what they do. Some pursue therapy because they hope the therapist has answers to solve their dilemma. Clients come into the office, explain their lives, hurt and pain and hope that the therapist will tell them something magical to solve the problem. As though the therapist has 'expert' knowledge that the client isn't privy to.
I've heard so many times that unless a therapist has what appears to be a 'perfect' life with fulfilling relationships and success, their competency as a therapist is implied to be lacking. 'Who is this person telling others what to do when they can't even fix their own life!' Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Therapists are trained not to tell clients what to do, nor do they have the 'secret' to having painless relationships and success. Many times therapists will become divorced, have less than satisfying relationships, struggle with challenges and faced with obstacles that come with living life.
I think that a therapist's contribution is best measured by their ability and willingness to listen...deeply listen to the stories the clients bring into therapy. A great therapist will ask you wonderful questions that challenge you to reflect and further knowledge about your motivations, values, feelings and emotions. A great therapist will show up and be authentic with you...will be human with you and not hide behind a veil of 'secret' knowledge. We are trained to understand universal laws of relationship, the power of language and the potential of having conversations that will most likely never occur outside of a therapy room.
You are the expert on your life. The therapist is an expert at asking questions and provoking meaningful conversation about the problems you are facing. It's within relationships and conversation that change takes place.