The Therapist of Oz

We’re Off to See the Therapist!

Clients come to therapy with many different expectations, wants, and needs. Some people want their therapist to just be there and listen to them… an experience they don’t get very often and one they need to be able to understand themselves better.

Some people come to therapy thinking that the therapist will be able to fix their problems. Others aren’t sure exactly what to expect, and aren’t sure what they want or need… they just have a sense that something is missing or just isn’t working anymore.

The Therapist of Oz

It dawns on me weekly that therapy is very much like the story of The Wizard of Oz. People come to therapy searching for many things: happiness, peace, healing, relief, the ability to become powerful in their own lives, the ability to stop doing things they don’t want to do, and the ability to start doing things they do want to do.

Just like the lion, the Tinman, the scarecrow, and even Dorothy… they are searching for love, for courage, for empowerment, to feel finally like they belong in this world they would like to feel like and call “Home.”

The Wizard: Fraud or Freud?

There’s that wonderful line from the Dewey Bunnell song, The TinMan: “Oz never did give nothing to the Tinman that he didn’t, didn’t already have…”

And therapy is often just like this. Yes, therapists can tell you things about your diagnosis or about the current knowledge of the field that you didn’t know before. And therapists can teach you how to do certain things, like setting goals, keeping behavior charts, practicing assertiveness techniques, learning how to resolve conflicts effectively, and much more.

But mainly, good therapists simply remind you and make you aware of qualities, strengths, and abilities that were there all along.

Just Click Your Heels…

If you are human, you have the ability to love. You have the ability to determine for yourself what is right and healthy for you. You have the ability to be appropriately courageous, assertive, and protective of what matters to you. You have the ability to trust others, to be more open and vulnerable, and “yourself” with others. You have the ability to learn and know that you matter in this world, and that you have a home.

Your therapist isn’t going to give these abilities to you.  He or she may just remind you that you have them at your disposal, give you some pointers on how to use them, and convince you that you need to practice because you might be a “little rusty.”

Let’s Head Down That Yellow Brick Road

If you’re in therapy or contemplating seeing a therapist to help you resolve a problem or issue in your life, keep in mind that you’ll be the one doing most of the work. Remember the Wizard never left Emerald City… everyone else had to go on the tough journeys to complete tasks like getting the broomstick of the wicked witch. But hopefully, you will leave your therapeutic experience with the knowledge intact that you have what you need to know, that you have what you need to feel, and that you are who you need to be.  🙂

DrAnita Sanz, PhD, Psychologist

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