First Answer
Because therapists are often most interested in therapy. They usually do it full-time (for better and worse) and so may have other interests but rarely have time to pursue them to a high level of accomplishment.

Which probably isn’t what the question is getting at. So . . .

 

Rephrased Question
If therapy is so great, why don’t those who do therapy get to be the best at everything? It’s meant to remove our blocks and release our energies and so on.

 

Second Answer
Generally therapy does lead people to have more ease and joy and satisfying relationships (though this may include leaving dissatisfying ones).

But this still doesn’t answer the question about people living their potential. And it sort of leads to questions about what therapy is meant to be about. There are really a couple of questions in our rephrased question.

 

One question is: Does therapy help? In my experience for most people the answer is “yes”. That is: it lessens pain and increases ease with oneself and others.

Another question is: Does therapy help me become who I can be or want to be?
This is more complicated. Sometimes we discover that who I wanted to be was part of the problem. Therapy can mean that we see through an illusion. (We often want to get better the way we got sick. So we may need to be ‘cured’ of what we wanted.

And some therapists think it inappropriate to tell people who they should be or what they should do. For these people the issue of therapy helping people be ‘better people’ is inappropriate – sometimes it is regarded as just another attempt to impose an ideal.

I’m someone who thinks that, “Adjustment to an insane world is no measure of health” has much truth. Which means something like, human potential is good and some social situations impede the realisation of this potential; and these situations are worse than those which encourage our flourishing.

This is a social vision of people: we are effected by and to some extent shape our situation. We are nourished by those places where we can be ourselves and express ourselves and frustrated by other situations. And so we do what we can to find and create what nourishes us and reduce or transform our frustrations.

We could call this broader sense of therapy “self development” and keep “therapy” for pain alleviation and restoring ourselves to ‘normal’. Though there are whole types of therapy committed to self development being what therapy is about.

To the extent that therapy helps people to be more fulfilled, have more fulfilling relationships and do worthwhile work and play, it is contributing to making a better world. Some people will discover that their flourishing means being involved in social change and so their therapy contributes to a better world in this way too.

This is based on a particular view of who we are: not only rational, and not confined to our minds; but embodied and social beings who relate to ourselves and others with joy and sadness, with love and revulsion and much else.

 

For Your Reflection

  1. What is a significant frustration for you? (Maybe not the biggest but not the smallest either – one that has some importance for you.)
  2. What is it that you want to do?
  3. Is this possible? To get very good or even be the world’s best at something may be possible for you. To do it perfectly may not be.
  4. Is it a way to something else? (Acceptance from yourself or others? A feeling of joy? A release of emotion?)
  5. What would be flourishing for you? What kinds of support and resources do you need to flourish? What one step can you take to flourish?

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