If you’re thinking of going to therapy for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions. In How to Succeed in Therapy, Jared Scherz more than answers them.
Scherz explores the often confusing world of feeling better. Full of useful information that you want to know — and then even more that you didn’t know you’d be curious about — his book is a backdoor entrance to therapy. What do therapists really think when they talk with you? Should you reveal your deepest, darkest secrets? Scherz successfully covers these types of questions, as well as many other aspects of selecting a practitioner and engaging in therapy in a way that will truly help.
As Scherz explains, sometimes therapy helps us alter the way we respond to distress so that we feel more intact, “and sometimes it’s about becoming more accepting of what is outside of our control — coming to terms with what is and what has been.” The book carefully parses the core components of therapy and explains how it differs from counseling and coaching. Therapy, Scherz writes, requires a method for “gaining insight, awareness, or understanding about what is hidden or unknown to us.” We can use it to feel replenished, to help find closure, to identify barriers, and to search for greater meaning.
Scherz provides self-help tips, such as encouraging us to tell our therapist when we are dissatisfied, but he also gives us interesting facts and statistics. We learn the percentage of people who struggle with anxiety, as well as what to expect during the first session.
And that first session certainly matters. When Scherz guides us in selecting a therapist, he includes a list of questions we should ask the practitioner in the first session — and then more questions to ask ourselves afterward. Here, as in the rest of the book, his message is empowering, as he encourages the reader to “test drive your assertiveness early” and see how the new therapist responds. He covers the major theoretical orientations that a therapist might use in their practice, and gives us sample interactions to help us know what to expect in daily sessions.
To prepare for therapy, Scherz also recommends keeping a journal, creating a support system, and replenishing spent energy. And he wants us to be active, not passive, in our approach to wellness. “We have given [healthcare workers] the responsibility for making us feel well instead of having them educate us and teach us to be self-reliant,” he writes, but we should change that and become what he calls “an involved wellness consumer.” We need to know about ourselves and what can help us holistically, and Scherz covers things like yoga, massage, reiki, and nutrition — even the controversial world of GMO foods.
Therapy does not, Scherz writes, change who you are or turn you into a different person. But it does help with “the self-discovery process of finding lost or hidden aspects of yourself and then integrating them into your personhood.” That can be quite an overwhelming process, but Scherz gives us a comprehensive guide so we can dive in.
How to Succeed in Therapy: Navigating the Pitfalls on the Path to Wellness
Rowman & Littlefield, January 2015
Hardcover, 246 pages