“…In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?” ~Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person, p.32
What is our real work?
It’s easy to think that the role of a psychotherapist is to treat a person or help our clients change. Indeed, that may be the outcome we hope for. But it’s not the work that we need to put in.
Our real work is not to treat a person. We conflate the outcome we desire with the work that we need to put in, in order to get that outcome.
Our real work is more like a gardener than a builder.
A builder builds, and when that’s done, the work is done. A gardener lays the ground work, and waits for the seeds to grow. A builder’s work is finite. A gardener’s work is never done. She continues to tend to the plants, nurtures and prunes its branches.
Like a gardener, a therapist real work is in the pre-work.
It’s what we do outside of the therapy hour,
in order to get better at what we do in the ritual of therapy.