Why and How
“Why…?” is perhaps the most frequently asked question in therapy. It’s a great question, asked by clients and therapists alike. And sometimes it’s a pointless question. The really hard part is to be able to tell when to ask it and when to ignore it.
I often find myself assisting clients in figuring out the “why” of some emotion, thought, experience, or result. This is an important part of making sense of our lives and is essential to integration. Without why, we cannot get to Erikson’s stage of development known as Ego Integrity vs Despair. Without why, trauma survivors find little to grab onto as they pull themselves out of the dark hole of fear. But there are those moments when “why” doesn’t really matter…
For example, in the intermediate-to-advanced stages of therapy, a client has already identified the major themes of her childhood. She has taken a good hard look at her family dynamics and her coping style. She has begun the process of drawing connections between whatever happened then and whatever is happening now. At this point, it may feel easier and safer to keep asking “Why…?” when a more useful question may be “How…?”
How does … affect me?
How do I want to…?
How is my current situation/behavior creating whatever I do/don’t want?
How am I using this information (the why)?
How am I repeating the past?
How do I want my present or future to be?
If you feel stuck in the “Why…?” it may be time to begin asking some how questions. I can assist you in creating a sturdy bridge between the two. A compassionate therapist is attuned to the balance between why and how, the past and the present, the past and the future. I am eager to explore these questions with you in pursuit of your best relationships and most peaceful life!