The Skeptical Psychotherapist
by Thomas J. Auflick
I think people are not only skeptical about therapy, they’re doubtful. According to Dr. Gary Trosclair, skepticism of psychotherapy is normal and healthy. In Dr. Trosclair’s book, I’m Working On It In Therapy: How To Get The Most Out Of Psychotherapy, he provides potential clients a leg up in the process. Before I became a therapist I was more than skeptical about the benefits of therapy. My personal experiences in therapy were disappointing and not beneficial. I will admit that I was ignorant on how the process actually worked and fearful of putting my mind in the hands of another. How could anyone allow another person to navigate his or her internal world? But according to Dr. Trasclair, this kind of thinking is a part of the process.
I didn’t believe therapy could work for me, but I knew it had worked for others. In order for me to become a psychotherapist, I had to engage in counseling. Fortunately, my student training provided a positive experience. Through the process, I became aware of myself as a whole person. I gained insight into my personality, dealt with hidden traumas, began to examine my purpose and life’s meaning, but most of all, I realized that therapy could help me evolve as a person. Health and wellness took on greater meaning when my eyes became open to the true reality of my being.
Completing training as a therapist brought me into the world as a practitioner and a client, and the work I did as a client progressed to allow me to realize immediate results. I am a better client because of my knowledge and understanding of the process. In this regard, I have a direct path toward my personal goals by accepting the commitment and work needed to succeed. At times in my therapeutic journey, I sought out different therapists. Here in lies my continued skepticism about the reliability of the process in the right hands of a particular therapist. I do believe different therapists provide unique individuality and understanding. The decision to find the right therapist might be as simple as desiring the perspective of a specific culture, gender or theoretical approach.
No matter how much research we do on therapy or analysis of therapeutic interventions to derive validity of its process, we will always be subjected to a human art of healing. At the very base of talk therapy, we know that the most important aspect of the process derives from the relationship between client and therapist. This is where Dr. Trosclair’s idea that skepticism is appropriate and healthy. We should all have a healthy skeptical nature when it comes to building a relationship. Relationships are built through trust. Trust is a foundation within healthy relationships and will ensue over time.
Often the therapeutic process gains momentum over time to get to a place where a person can relax and feel safe enough to divulge his or her greatest fears, fantasies or imperfections. Therapy is a human process and may not always resolve or fix immediately what ails us, but the initiative to reach out and ask for help from a therapist is a step toward healing. Not only can therapy help us to relieve symptoms from mental health disturbances, it can take us to greater levels of personal satisfaction, meaning and purpose in life.
Connection to each other is fundamental for human life. Through connection, we build our lives and find meaning. This is most important and relevant for success in therapy. Before we find security in unlocking the greatest secrets to the meaning of our individuality, it is good to be a little cautious and perhaps even skeptical of whom we choose to help us embark upon our journey toward better health and well-being. Our skepticism may lead us to a real foundation of trust and a healthy therapeutic relationship where healing and growth can happen.
This is a commentary on the Huffington Post article "If You're Skeptical about Psychotherapy" by Dr Gary Trosclair. You can read the full article at