For the first few years of my work, I hesitated on telling new clients about my belief in long-term therapy. I worried they would freak out, think I was only trying to assure myself of work, and not buy into the idea. I was anxious about starting off and wasn’t quite sure how to sell folks on the idea of something long-term, and so I would shy away from the conversation.
Of course I believe in long-term therapy for many reasons. Primarily, though, because of its effectiveness at using the relational dynamic to get to the root of struggles and work change at a core level. I wasn’t content with bandaids and surface level change when those fixes, while effective, were sometimes situational and difficult to apply to all parts of life. I love the deep work, the messy heart level work.
And so in hopes of getting others intrigued and sold on this, I began taking the risk of telling potential clients this idea at the start. I assure them that it is their choice and they aren’t committing to any sort of long-term therapy while simultaneously sharing my heart for deep heart change that only comes through long standing relationship and work around the core parts of them. I emphasize the idea of getting to know them while sharing skills and practices along the way. I share my hopes in truly seeing and walking with them for more than a short season so the essence of who they are becomes clear.
Change of behavior is essential for change of heart. I so value sitting with new clients and probing with small inquiries related to small changes they can immediately put into practice. It is my honor and responsibility to provide the best questions and reflections, insights and ideas, that get folks thinking about why they do what they do. I love the practice of celebrating with others the ways they have taken risks or tried out a new practice. Having a front row seat to change is such a privilege.
Plenty of people are satisfied with this level change. In a lot of arenas, it’s really great work. It truly does lead to better lives for individuals and I am encouraged by the courage it takes to make and sustain these adjustments. For others though, this isn’t enough and heart level change is the goal. They long to innovate around the core, letting the effects of change spiderweb out and impact their daily living without the always conscious effort.
Innovation around the core is for the bravest of the brave—those willing to fall and stand again more times than they ever dreamed and those prepared to take a most honest look at themselves even when they are certain there are reflections they won’t like seeing. It is the practice of challenging ones very heart in hopes of healing and thriving. It is cleaning out the wound rather than covering it.
As you look toward change and growth, I encourage you to not ignore the core. It is the source of your strength and freedom, the well from which we draw when our backs feel up against the wall. It’s the hardest heart of the work that requires a willingness and invitation for God to move. Innovate here, where the effects are lasting and multiplied, for it’s freedom and fruitfulness is one that no one can take from you as you live anew.
Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.
For more information on long-term therapy and core innovation, contact me!