Stacie Later, CSW-I
Have you heard the wise advice, "trust the process"? If you have yet to hear this saying, it is a phrase we use in therapy and it’s a helpful way to remind us to check in on our expectations for healing and not let what should happen disrupt the course of what is happening.
As a client, allowing our processes to evolve in its own profoundly personal way can be difficult, particularly when we are feeling trapped in our pain and urgently want it to stop. As therapists we wish we could make it stop with a magic wand for you, too. Unfortunately, that is not how healing in therapy works. Healing takes time, patience and practice outside the therapist’s office, and something would regrettably be brushed over if we sought to hurry or aimed for only a specific outcome. This is because what we are often seeking to get through going to therapy is not exactly what will empower us to heal.
We might enter therapy with the expectation to find a way to be invulnerable to our current
experiences. We may enter with a belief that therapy is complete once we don’t struggle anymore or when we are constantly happy. There may be a desire to use the time in therapy to be remorseful and beat ourselves up as an attempt to correct the past. We might enter therapy with an ideal outcome which we believe will prevent suffering. We might be so enthralled in a belief that something is indeed wrong with us that we go on a never-ending expedition to unmask our shortcomings so that we can, maybe, one day be flawless.
Healing happens to be differentiated from these expectations and ideals. Healing could mean that rather than try to be invulnerable, we accept vulnerability as a strength rooted from courage. These challenges can instead be seen as prompts to grow and form more personal connections through our shared human experiences.
Instead of seeking solely ‘positive’ emotions or striving to discredit the ‘negative’ sentiments of the human experience; trusting the process can mean that we learn to accept unhappiness, pain, and life’s let downs. Perhaps that we expand our range of feeling and emotion and learn how to embrace being with our experiences without getting overwhelmed. Allowing ourselves to be, and accept that being, in a full range of emotional capacities we can expand our capability to feel and experience life in greater detail. Through the process of therapy, we may experience life’s delights in more elements alongside our woes. Allowing and accepting the human experience like this is what living more fully and whole-heartedly can look like.
Again, remember that saying? Trust the process. It isn’t a destination laid out in steps on a map. Granting ourselves the permission to trust the process means that we are allowing our personal process to unfold as it ‘is’ and needs to. Not in the time frame or the manner we inevitably place our expectations or beliefs that it ‘should.’
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