Naperville therapists

Photo Credit: Bigstock (CASTALDOstudios)

My clients tend to think I’ll be surprised when they cancel a session.

The truth is, I’m surprised when they show up.

In fact, it amazes me whenever anyone chooses to go to therapy. Think about it. When you go to therapy, you’re choosing to be vulnerable. You’re choosing to move toward your pain rather than away from it. You’re choosing to sit in the midst of your uncertainty for a time, rather than spending all your energy shoring up your certitude about everything and everyone.

You’re volunteering to consider the possibility you might be wrong—you might need to change, you might need to apologize. On the other hand, you’re volunteering to consider the possibility you might not be wrong—you might need to make a stand, honor yourself, set boundaries, refuse to back down, and fight for what is healthy and holy. Either way, you’re risking a new and undefined future—better perhaps, but unknown, and thus a little terrifying.

And you pay to do it.

Most people pay to go to the movies. Or a water park or a carnival or a restaurant. Most people pay to distract themselves from their pain. Most people pay to avoid the hard work of growth and transformation. Most people pay to go on vacation. Therapy clients, on the other hand, pay to take a vacation from their avoidance. They pay to take a vacation from their defenses. They pay to take a vacation from their comfort. They pay to take a vacation from apathy and indifference and the status quo.

I’ve been a therapist for going on twenty years, and that kind of courage still amazes me.

So, to all the therapy clients out there—and to all of you who are choosing to approach your whole life like an opportunity for transformation—thank you for your bravery. You show up. You risk honesty and humility and the unknown. That is a radical, revolutionary, counter-cultural act. It’s the raising of a particular finger to complacency. It’s a valiant stand against our collectively growing narcissism. It is an almost unfathomable act of spiritual depth. Sometimes, I still can’t believe how courageous you are. Yet, despite my stubborn sense of surprise, over the years, you’ve begun to make a believer out of me.

You’re making me believe in goodness and light.

You’re making me believe in the human heart.

You’re making me believe in hope.


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Dr. Kelly Flanagan
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