The Ripple Effect

By Julia Suklevski, LMSW

My therapeutic style often incorporates the use of metaphor, imagery, and zen mindfulness approaches.  I find that often when working with clients who are navigating complex life stressors, are experiencing distress about present social, professional, and personal challenges, or are questioning their self-worth and identity, it is important to break down these seemingly larger issues into something that is more down-to-earth.  A common theme that I have noticed comes up for most of my clients at some point during therapy is the question of “am I enough?”  Another way of phrasing this question can be “am I doing enough,” “have I done a good job,” “will I ever find my purpose,” “am I connected to people around me,” and “do I matter?” 

To address these questions – and any other related inquiry that might not fit the above existential questions – I utilize the concept of The Ripple Effect

When one tosses a pebble into a still body of water, the pebble breaks through the surface, sinking to the bottom.  Yet, the impact of that pebble on the body of water is quite profound: the contact with the water creates a ripple effect when the tiny waves created by the pebble radiate outwards.  I like to use this imagery to help clients recognize that their actions, no matter how small, brief, or “surface level” as they might be, do have a longer, profound impact on themselves and others. The energy that is created by one’s very being is felt by others; their impression can be long-lasting.  The ripple effect analogy helps clients connect to a part of themselves that might be covered by self-doubt that their actions are insignificant, that their emotions might not matter, and that their presence goes unnoticed. 

As human beings, we do want to be acknowledged, validated, and appreciated. It is a socially accepted desire to want to feel noticed through our actions by others; we want to have a lasting impression on those we interact with. We want to matter. 

Just as a pebble making contact with the surface of a body of still water reflects that action can have a positive, negative, or neutral impact on everything external to that small pebble, our actions as individuals can have an equally positive, negative, or neutral influence on everything external to us. 

How will you cast your pebble into the body of water in your life? Allow this to be something you ponder upon when you are experiencing any kind of self-doubt. Be mindful of the emotions and thoughts that occur when you think about this metaphor. What is your ripple effect? 

Julia Suklevski is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you are looking for support in finding solutions to enhance your overall wellness, contact Cobb Psychotherapy by calling 718-260-6042 or emailing, and see how therapy can help.

Elizabeth Cobb