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Therapy Isn’t About Correction — Gwen M. White, PsyD

I often hear myself say to my clients something like, “Let’s try to set aside correcting your thoughts and your feelings and focus on noticing them fully so we can explore them together and see where that leads us.”  

So often, as I am getting to know someone, I find that we get sidetracked by a pervasive desire to correct everything that’s wrong.  What’s wrong with me?  Why don’t I feel happy with what I have?  Why do I mess up my relationships so often? Why do I end up drinking myself into a kind of numb state?  Can you help me change?  This translates often to:  can you help me correct my bad thoughts, my bad feelings and bad choices?

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I’ve found as I consider carefully how I listen (Luke 8), I hear far more accurately when I’m not looking for what’s wrong, but instead give my attention fully to simply what is.

We humans work in patterns. The repeating scripts that run inside our minds automatically end up shaping much of how we interpret what’s happening to us and even in us. We need to see them and know them first.  We need to experience the impact of them rather than running in their grooves unconsciously.  We need to explore them, but we can’t do that if we are occupied with correcting ourselves.

I’m not against making changes when we discover we’ve been wrong and I absolutely believe in right and wrong, but I am convinced that we must identify the full scope of our thinking, feeling and doing first. That’s how we get there if our aim is true transformation.

So as you think and pray and talk to friends and family this week, try an experiment if you will. Set aside the desire and the quest to correct yourself or them and give your attention to the identification of what’s really happening in you in the moment.  See if you can offer that to God and waylay the urge to correct.  God can certainly bring light to our darkness after all and it strikes me that we get in the way of that fullness by taking control and jumping in with our corrections.  Accept, explore, wait.  It brings so much freedom.

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