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  • Autumn Quiles, LCSW

Ready for Change?

The purpose of therapy is to facilitate change. To make things different. To, ideally, make things better. Successful therapy- successful change- requires a person to abandon The Old and choose The New.

I have found that this process is only loosely related to the kind of Problem a person has. Some people have Big Problems, but don't want to change. Some people have Little Problems, but want to change a lot. Some people have their Own Problems, but they want Others to change. And sometimes people's Others have Problems, but they feel compelled to change themselves.

Many times, people think that the purpose of therapy is to not have Problems anymore. This is not true and, frankly, it is an impossible goal. Problems are opportunities for us to refine Who We Are and life could be very, very boring if we did not refine, and redefine, ourselves. Therapy helps a person to approach Problems in a different way- a curious way, an exciting way, a confident way...a way that brings us in harmony with ourselves and our world.

So this change is a process. It's been studied, at length, by researchers. The researchers found that, before an individual is ready to actually take action that will lead to change, a person must decide 1) there is a problem and 2) they feel they can fix the problem.

Children do not have the power to obtain, or refuse, therapy. If their adults decide they are going, they will go. If their adults refuse to take them, they will not go. However, children have All The Power once they enter a therapy space.

Because there are (at least) two inevitable, universal truths about change:

  1. Every individual- regardless of age or sex or race or identity or need or resources- has the Power to choose, or not choose, to change.

  2. A person can only, only, only change themselves.

I cannot choose change or cause change for a child, parent or family. People who have experience being in therapy know this; they know that we therapists are only guideposts and path illuminators, but the real work- and real success- is theirs.

My job lies in helping others to find the easiest and most efficient path toward Change that will bring them the most sustainable relief and joy. Sometimes that path is unexpected by the grownups. Sometimes grownups would rather follow, or have their child follow, the path they have cleared. Coercion is very different from Change.

So, when you're entertaining the notion of therapy, it would be wise to give thought to where you and your child are, with respect to the change process. Do you want change, but your child sees no problem? Does your child want help, but you see nothing wrong? Are you open to the possibility that change may need to happen in the nooks and crannies of your life? Are you prepared to reroute the daily emotional highways of your life? Are you ready to Choose Change for Yourself?

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