I recently left my job at New York Presbyterian Hospital where I worked for the last six years. Leaving a place and people who are very special to me gave me time to reflect on the work of being a therapist and the role of being a client.
It takes a lot of guts to come to therapy. It requires acknowledgment that there is something you want to work on and then taking it to the next level of facing it head on. As a therapist, I feel fortunate to work with individuals who choose to work on themselves and want to improve their lives—it is an incredibly motivating aspect of the job as well as an important one. I tell my clients that I can't do the work for them. I'm here to help them understand the problem and then figure out strategies to manage it or solve it. It's up to them to then try it until we discover what is helpful.
Many people come to therapy in search of happiness. Therapy isn't about finding happiness, it's about how you develop it for yourself. Therapy is about figuring out how to take control of something that feels out of your control. It reminds me of the advice my dad gave to me on my wedding day. He said, "Being happy will not always make you grateful, but being grateful will always make you happy." Life will give you ups and downs, good times and bad times, and you may not be able to have a say in this. Trying to start with happiness will be difficult because there are a lot of obstacles that come up in life. However, you do have a say in your gratitude.
Practice being grateful for getting through challenges and also being grateful for the celebrations. It is from this that happiness will follow and there is nothing more rewarding than generating happiness for yourself.