The Magic of Therapy is Clarity.

by Olatunde Howard, MA, LMFT

I’ve noticed that some clients think therapists are magicians and that therapy is magic.  And if the magic doesn’t kick in after one or two sessions (3 tops!), then therapy isn’t working.  Now the thing is, therapy can begin to “work” after one or two sessions, depending on the client and the presenting problem.  It may even work after one session, and this is where therapy can be magical–if we understand what the magic really is.

The magic of therapy is clarity.

It’s when clients (not therapists) have a clear view of where they are in life and where they want to be.  I’ve seen this over and over again as a therapist.  I’ve seen the magic of just defining a problem clearly.  And the power of a clear goal united to a clear motivation to achieve that goal.  Sometimes, after one session, if these two things happen:  1) a clearly defined problem with 2) a clearly defined goal, the client no longer needs the therapist, which is what the therapist ultimately wants any way.  Good therapists want to work themselves out of a job.  They don’t want clients to need therapy or the therapist. 

So the magic is shared by clients and therapists.  They create a momentum in therapy that brings about a series of unexplainable “coincidences” in clients’ lives.  Again, I’ve seen the following scenarios happen time and time again:  A clients clearly defines the problem and the goal, and things start to happen in the client’s life that coincidentally match the therapeutic goal! 

  • A loved one calls that the client had decided to reconnect with as a therapeutic goal.
  • An employer the client had an issue with (which led to therapy!) schedules a meeting.
  • A problem child sends a text after the client decides to pursue reconciliation.
  • A distant parent sends an email after the client resolves ambivalence about the relationship.
  • After therapy about a withdrawn spouse, that very spouse wants to have a serious talk over dinner.

And each of these events seem miraculous, because they happen right after therapy–more importantly, right after a client specifically decides to work on each of these examples.  Though therapists aren’t magicians, and therapy isn’t magic, a clearly defined problem and goal make “miracles” seem to occur, in and out of therapy.  That’s the real magic of therapy.  Clients make the real magic with the therapist.  Clients are the real magicians.

Olatunde Howard, MA, LMFT

Olatunde is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. He graduated with honors from Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, a COAMFTE accredited program, with a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition with honors from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Read More

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