“Fortunately [psycho] analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist” (Karen Horney).
NOWADAYS, THE WORD “THERAPY” SUGGESTS NO MORE TO THE AVERAGE PERSON THAN “PSYCHOTHERAPY” OR PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING. But the word “therapy” is too good a word to limit to clinicians and counselors. To engage in therapy simply means to give help that is healing or curative in nature, and that’s something every one of us needs to be busy doing from time to time.
By the time our lives are finished, each of us will have become one or the other: a helper or a hurter. As far as our peers are concerned, there’s not much in between. So it’s good to aspire to being a helper. If others can say they find us to be good “therapy,” we will have been paid a high compliment indeed. It’s worth preparing our character and our conduct so that such a thing can be truthfully said.
The ability to help heal people when they’ve been hurt is not acquired accidentally. Healing is an art that requires skill, wisdom, and compassion, among other things. So if we want to be able to help those around us, we need to elevate therapy to the status of a goal in our lives. We need to start learning the tools of that worthy trade.
The therapeutic power of words is nothing short of amazing. Of all the things that human words can do, none is more impressive than their ability to heal. Sometimes even very serious emotional wounds can be helped by a seemingly simple balm: a word of encouragement, an expression of appreciation, or a suggestion of hope and confidence.
But if the words of others can be therapeutic — and they surely can be — then our own words can have that effect too. There may be times when someone we know needs to see a professional “therapist,” and at times like that, we may feel we don’t have much to offer in the way of help. But for every time when a friend needs professional help, there are many more times when a friend will need to hear the healing words that we can speak to them. Yes, it takes wisdom, and wisdom requires work, but we can learn to use the gift of language in such a way that those who hear our words are helped — and even healed.
“Words of comfort, skillfully administered, are the oldest therapy known to man” (Louis Nizer).