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What is the Purpose of Therapy and Do You Need It?



The previous post, identified 13 warning signs of toxic therapy designed to help you know when a therapist is displaying harmful behavior in your counseling sessions. I also discussed what makes a therapist a good therapist and how to define a healthy counseling relationship. In today’s post, we will dive deeper into the purpose of therapy and help you determine if it's time for you to begin therapy.


Decades ago, the reason I pursued my purpose as a therapist is because of my own experience of lasting transformation through therapy. People helped me face my pain in a safe and compassionate environment. Facing the deepest truths of my life during that season of therapy set me free and brought tremendous healing. Because of painful childhood moments and the sudden loss of a close family member, I needed someone to sit with me while I sat with myself; I was used to enduring and carrying my pain alone.


Healing Happens in Relationship


Therapy is a relationship, not a formula or a technique. How can it be a technique when we’re dealing with the heart and soul of another person? When I counsel my clients, we do not dialogue about their circumstances. I access their deep, innermost emotions and desires. As a therapist, I do not relate to my clients’ symptoms or their diagnoses. There is a person beneath those issues with a story of personal pain.


In therapy we discover that healing happens in relationship. The wounds that occurred in relationship must be healed in relationship.

Therapy is not merely a conversation; it is a relationship between two people. Therapy is not something that happens to us, it is something that happens through us. Genuine transformation and healing happens when we do the courageous work. There is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to healing wounds in our soul and abiding in our heart’s desires. There are no shortcuts, 5-step solutions, or tool kits.


The healing process in therapy is about identifying the lies we tell ourselves, letting go of our defenses and excuses, and creating authentic relationships with others and ourselves. The work is hard, but it’s the right kind of hard. We do not know ourselves by ourselves. Having a safe and trustworthy person such as a therapist, in a one-on-one setting who partners with you in your struggles is the way clarity, healing, and breakthrough manifest. The therapeutic relationship is about co-creating deep experiences and lasting change.


Truth Leads to Freedom


My clients experience issues such as anxiety, depression, chronic stress, insecurity, and relationship difficulties. Beneath their suffering are the lies they are believing and the emotions they are avoiding. A therapist helps us to see those lies that are invisible to us and the unnecessary suffering they inflict.


Many of our problems are rooted in the ways we have unconsciously learned to avoid the truth: the truth of who we are, who others are, and who God is. Avoiding truth will never bring freedom; it will only bring suffering.


What is the purpose of therapy? Truth. And if it does not lead to freedom, it’s not truth.


How do I know? Jesus said so: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).


We learn the truth in therapy. Before the truth can set us free, we must identify what lies are holding us captive. Most often it’s the lies we tell ourselves, the lies of others, and the lies of the enemy. A therapist helps you experience truth by facing the reality of your difficult situations and painful relationships. Such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, heartbreak, rejection, or the end of a career.


Each one of us tell ourselves lies to avoid pain or because we are afraid: it’s part of what makes us human. Perhaps we tell ourselves a lie such as “I should just try harder, have more faith” rather than facing a marriage that is falling apart. Or, “I’m not that busy” rather than addressing chronic body pain, sleep issues, fatigue, and not prioritizing the relationships of those within the four walls of your home.


In therapy, we explore the lies that hold us captive so we can embrace the truth that sets us free.

This is why seeking therapy is important because we need someone outside of ourselves to help us face the pain we avoid, the fear that keeps us stuck, and the lies we believe. Our pain contains truth. As a therapist, I am committed to helping my clients face the deepest emotional, relational, mental, and spiritual truths of their lives so they can be healed and live free.


You Do It All


Most days, you are experiencing internal pressure and relational pressure occurring simultaneously. Balancing your needs with the needs of others who depend on you.


You really invest yourself deeply both in your relationships and your work – whether it be a career, ministry, or a passion project.


You are high achieving, self-motivated, and your own worst critic. You put a great deal of pressure on yourself to do all things well and often feel as though you have not done enough.


You are intelligent, conscientious, and hard-working; you do it all. You have an intense inner drive to succeed in business, family matters, and community-related endeavors. The truth is, underneath, you battle insecurity, doubt, and fear.


From the outside looking in, you’ve got it together or you’re living your dream.


What people don’t see is that you are burned out, fatigued, struggle with frequent bouts of depression, and are anxious most of the time. Or, perhaps you don’t spend as much time as you want with the people closest to you – or even those within the four walls of your home.


The good news is, you no longer have to go through life depleted and tied up in one-sided relationships that drain you. Or, anxiously driven by your own perfectionistic tendencies. Identifying these patterns or relationships is the first step to healing and freedom.


Growth is not always pleasant, nor is the healing process pain-free, but neither is living with one-sided relationships or constant overwhelm in your life that creates unnecessary suffering day after day.


Many of my clients can relate. They are ambitious men and women who are leaders in their communities, pastors, business owners, or stay-at-home mothers who do it all – the carpool, homework help, run errands, participate in school activities, attend church functions, and serve in ministry.


I work closely with my clients and take a very active role in addressing how they are stuck so they can live an abundant, meaningful life. Therapy will take you on deep dive of your heart and soul, help you face your greatest fears, find healing, and move from pain to purpose so you are not only free, but happy.



**The content for this blog post has been taken from chapter 9 (Cuckoo Counsel, Who Hurts You and Who Can Help You) of Andrea’s book, The Cuckoo Syndrome: The Secret to Breaking Free from Unhealthy Relationships, Toxic Thinking, and Self-Sabotaging Behavior

The photo accompanying this article was sourced from Shutterstock and is in the public domain.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Anderson Polk is a licensed professional counselor, nationally certified, registered clinical supervisor, and certified professional coach. She has a private practice in Northern Virginia with well over a decade of clinical experience helping hundreds of clients on their healing journey.


She is driven by a deep commitment to uncovering hidden psychological, relational, and spiritual truths that are keeping people stuck so they can be free.

Her book, The Cuckoo Syndrome, is a provocative approach to understanding the human heart and relationships by weaving together her story and those of her clients with science, scripture, and psychology.

Andrea is here to help ambitious women of faith experience healing and breakthrough so they can live each day with peace and purpose. She believes healing happens through relationships. The wounds that occurred in a relationship must be healed in a relationship. Andrea invites you into a life-altering relationship.
Find out more about her services and work with Andrea one-one- by contacting her here.

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Andrea has spent her career studying the human experience and has developed a fascinating analogy that compares cuckoo birds, nature’s master manipulator and imposter, to situations and relationships that leave us feeling drained, confused, lost, and empty. Her new book, The Cuckoo Syndrome, helps us fend off the cuckoos, the unhealthy relationships, toxic thinking, and self-sabotaging behaviors in our life that never truly satisfy the deep longings of our souls and the desires of our hearts. 

Andrea’s clinically proven, innovative method helps us recover the lost pieces of ourselves, discover meaning in suffering, and transform our pain into purpose by teaching us to uncover the truth of who we are and who God is so we can be healed and live free. 

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Are you or someone you know suffering from The Cuckoo Syndrome? Take the free quiz to help you identify whether you are hosting The Relationship Cuckoo, The Self-Inflicted Cuckoo, or The Combination Cuckoo.