But they do, and I see it every day in my office. They come in shaking, crying, yelling, stonewalling, defensive, desperate, cynical…but with one thing in common: on some level, in some measure, they dare to hope. Sometimes against unbelievable odds, with heart-wrenching stories and no real reason to continue to hold on, they hope. And their hope in therapy, in me, is a gift and an honor. I try to hold it gently but securely, as we walk through that first session and subsequent others together. It is no small thing to open up your heart and mind to a total stranger. It is no small feat to bring what hurts the most into the light, daring to trust you might be able to have the life you want. And there are no promises. Even with this courage, sometimes things don’t work out – despite hard work and good intentions to the contrary, sometimes change doesn’t happen, and things stay broken.
But sometimes they do work out. Sometimes – often, actually – I see the initial investment of hope blossom into real changes in peoples’ lives. I’m with them when they have the “A-ha!” moment that leads them to understand their past and make better decisions in their future. I get to see the lightness return to their step, the smiles return to their faces, the love return to their lives. It’s awesome, and it’s why I love my work. Even if it only happened one time out of a hundred, it would be enough, but it happens much more than that. I know that the main ingredient in this is the courage of my clients – not just the significant courage it takes to come to therapy in the first place, but the courage to keep coming and keep working on things, especially outside the therapy room.
I believe that these people deserve all the good that comes their way. Helping and watching them figure that out is my privilege.