Therapy, motivation, and change

I saw an article referencing studies finding that therapy may have a desired effect for only about half of the clients.

The article frames this as a surprisingly low number, although I tend to be surprised it’s that high.

The number will obviously depend on how it is measured, and it also depends on what people wish to work on and what methods they use.

For instance, there are effective methods for phobias, while depression and trauma may be more difficult and take a longer time.

Also, over time, many psychological issues dissolve or lift on their own anyway.

What I have seen is that motivation is key. If we are highly motivated to change, we’ll find a way. A good match with methods and therapists is obviously important, but if the motivation is there we often find a way no matter what. And if we lack motivation, even the best methods, the best therapists, and the best match is not enough for change and transformation.

I have also found that for more general and deeper shifts in how we relate to life, certain daily practices are often more effective than most forms of therapy. For instance using heart-centered practices like tonglen and ho’oponopono, or all-inclusive gratitude practices. A sincere daily practice obviously requires motivation.

So where does the motivation come from? What creates a strong motivation?

The main answer, which is not so satisfying in itself, is that it comes when we are ripe and ready.

How can we become ripe? Often, it’s through life experiences over time and through being sincere and honest with ourselves.

And we can invite some of that ripeness and readiness by investigation.

For instance…

What am I afraid would happen if this changed or I was transformed?

What I am afraid could happen if I explore it?

What am I afraid would happen if I found healing for it?

What’s the effect of living as I do? What are the specifics? How does it show up in the different areas of my life? How does it impact my relationship with others? How do I act and live my life with this issue?

How would it be if it wasn’t here? How may my life be?

As with so much, taking an honest and detailed inventory of what’s happening is often a prerequisite for real change.

When we viscerally get that the pain and discomfort of staying the same is greater than the pain and discomfort of change, we tend to be ready and ripe for change.


  • therapy, motivation, and change
    • therapy itself may not bring about much change
    • can give insights but often not any real transformation
    • the key, from what I have seen, is motivation
    • if there is real motivation, there is often real change and transformation
    • see that the pain/discomfort of not changing is greater than any pain/discomfort of changing
    • we find a way, almost no matter what therapy, therapist etc.
    • also, daily practice and heart-centered practice can bring about more change than most forms of therapy

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