Why do people come to therapy?

In staff meeting yesterday Diane Langberg quoted J. Hillman (Dream Animals, 1997, p. 2):

“People come to therapy really for blessing. Not so much to fix what’s broken, but to get what’s broken blessed”

Sounds accurate to me


Filed under counseling, Great Quotes

6 responses to “Why do people come to therapy?

  1. Shelli

    Hey Phil,
    Could/would you please unpack that statement? I’m not following. Thanks,

  2. It might seem logical that people come to therapy to fix their problems. Frequently, however, it appears that people come wanting understanding, wanting a hearing. Yes, they would prefer their problems go away but many do not see that as possible (either they don’t see their part of the equation or they truely cannot fix the problem). Thus, they look for us to bless them and even absolve them of their guilt.

    The author is a Jungian analyst. I suspect he is saying that these problems don’t ever really go away but are part of ourselves. Though I might not agree with his psychology, I do agree with his sentiment of what people tend to look for.

    • I know in my practice, it is so apparent when someone comes in just wanting their direction or plans approved of (blessed). When a couple suggests a “trial separation,” they really want me to say, “That’s a great idea!” to endorse it and relieve them of their responsibility. Instead, I always turn it back on them and ask what they really want.

      It is so neat that you work with Diane Langberg. I’ve heard her at AACC conferences.

    • william

      It seems to also follow that he is indicating that what is truly ‘wrong’ with us is our feelings and perspectives on ourselves rather than anything actually about ourselves.

  3. penny

    seems like the point of this quote is how necessary it is for the community of God to become listening, compassionate, truth telling, blessing offering, non-judgmental, lovers of the sheep.

    I have often wondered while listening to SOME (not all) folks who come to therapy for a blessing, that mostly what they need, is a good set of friends and a good small group.

    People desire to give the appearance of virtue. Even when suffering, they hope that someone will tell them 1. it isn’t their fault; and 2. God has not abandoned them, 3. they will not always feel this horrible.

  4. Jo

    Haha, my first reaction was “Wow, I really like that quote”. I think I’m reading it in a slightly different way from some of you. 🙂

    I’m training to be a music therapist in the UK (secular qualification), and I’ve been running an open group on a psychiatric ward. Really what I’ve been doing is giving clients a hearing, an experience of being tolerated and accepted and of belonging to something. I’m thinking of one lady in particular who’s just incredibly broken, on paper she’s the very definition of ‘hopeless case’, but she does seem to be ‘blessed’ by the group. It’s not going to fix her. But it might restore a bit of her self-esteem and being to make her feel that she might be worth fixing.

    So to me that quote is encouraging. At the end of the day I can’t fix anybody, but I certainly can bless what’s broken – not in the sense of approving it, but bearing the brokenness and being with the person in it, loving them in the midst of it.

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