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One Therapist's View... Randi B. Frank, LMHC; in Miami

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

As a therapist, I get asked a lot of questions…

When will I get over the pain?

How do you gain self-esteem?

Will I find love?

How long until I can start dating again post breakup?

How do you build trust?

Am I doing this right?

What’s wrong with me?

When will things work out for me?

Will good things happen to me?

How do you process things?

Although I am often flattered that people believe in me to a level that I can answer these questions with ease and confidence, it remains a mystery why we rely on others for answers to our questions. As a society we are significantly less motivated to do the ‘work’ and develop the confidence to succeed and prefer the easy way out. I am sure if you are reading this you are quite aware life is anything but easy. Everything requires work and effort. Despite our dependency to ‘google, siri, or alexa’ questions, the shift to seek answers or stick with arduous things has dwindled. We have become less disciplined to commit to difficult work. Any obstacle that may evoke a less immediate outcome or becomes time consuming is avoided.

If everything was easy, what would be the point? For me, the reward is in the ‘doing’ phase even if it requires asking for assistance. I recently worked with a mother who shared how much stress she has been feeling in relation to her child’s ‘kindergarten’ homework. She explained the amount of work and the heaviness of the work children are expected to complete. She went on to share that the homework can often take an hour to successfully finish on her own which translates up to 3 hours of work for her child. We laughed about the concept of homework and the stigmas attached and couldn’t recall having homework at that level nor our parents’ assistance. We further discussed homework as a whole, stigmas associated, goals of assignments and benefits to it

It led me to this conclusion…we want others to provide us the answers more often than not. I began asking several of my clients last week the value of homework. The philosophy was described as things teachers want children to learn but don’t have time to teach and the goal is just completing it. I challenged them and tried to reframe what the point of homework could be when it comes to therapy and how different the meaning is when discussing ‘therapy homework.’

Homework should not be given just to get it done. It was originally developed to help guide and work alongside education to implement and master skills. The goal would be to develop the tools to help us learn, master skills, increase confidence, and demonstrate a perseverance to work through hard things despite the amount of time it requires. It is not always about getting the right answer or even an exact answer. It is more about staying with something long enough to explore ideas and gain perspective. If we are intolerant to trying new things, embracing mistakes, coming up short, persisting through difficulties, allowing time for frustration, managing stress, comprehending feelings of failure and defeat, taking risks, asking for help, and building these skills, our ability to depend on others to fix or solve or explain will always be our default.

There is no shame in asking for assistance but striving to work alone or alongside others provides us the skills and esteem to keep discovering and looking for the clues. If only we are reminded the answers are ours to gain and don’t have to be an exact fit or be answered immediately. Write them down, return to them later. The answers don’t have to be right and they never have to be permanent but the importance of them being yours is solely your responsibility. Remember there is no right answer. This will help encourage us to ask more questions, be more determined to explore answers and be more self reliant. If we allow ourselves the opportunity to gather information, explore resources, go back to basics, read, write, draw, create, talk, brainstorm, argue, negotiate, and challenge then answers will come. ---- Randi B. Frank, LMHC; in Miami, Florida


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