The End to Magical Thinking
When we suffer, we want a relief to our suffering quickly so we seek out those we think can help. When we have a medical problem, we seek out a doctor and trust that they will be able to cure us of what’s wrong. It can be tempting to apply the same thinking to psychological issues as well, but the analogy doesn't really hold. He's why magical thinking doesn't work.
The certainty of physical diagnosis
We are all familiar with the experience of going to a doctor. We tell him all the symptoms we are suffering, he asks us some questions (and maybe performs some tests) and then he makes a diagnosis. He prescribes some medications or perhaps refers us to a specialist and the treatment continues. In a nutshell, when we describe what is wrong, the doctor knows what it is and lets us know what we can do about it. There isn't much we need to do except follow the doctor's advice.
It's not like that with the mind
It doesn't really work like this when you come to see a psychotherapist / counsellor. The initial stage is just the same; you describe what's wrong and the psychotherapist may ask questions to further clarify what is happening for you. At this point you both might understand what it is you want to change.
Our wish to be cured
But from this point it is different. A psychotherapist can't then prescribe something that will change you without your participation or involvement. The idea that it might happen is often labelled ‘magical thinking’, in that we hope a magical cure will rid us of what troubles us, and that we will be made new.
It can be a disappointment to some people to realise that it isn't like this; that they will actually need to play an active role in their recovery.
The strength of the method
This is actually the strength of this method. Psychotherapy isn't a formulaic solution that can be applied to people without reference to the person that they already are. Instead the psychotherapist will work closely with you to deeply understand what is the troubles you, the changes that you would like to see made in your life and what success would look like.
It is only with this clarity that both you and the psychotherapist can start to work together to find out what's gone wrong and to gradually make changes. This process of collaborative exploration can be extremely satisfying and therapeutic in itself.
– Tim Hill
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