Psychotherapy: Change or Acceptance?

Psychotherapy: Change or Acceptance?
2nd November 2015 Cristiano Bruschi

‘Once we accept our limits we go beyond them’ ~ Albert Einstein



Many people see counselling and psychotherapy as something that would allow them to make small or big changes in their lives. Some other people might want to explore specific life situations and seek support to manage them in a healthy way.


In my experience of therapy I can say that I have witnessed many changes in my clients. What I have also noticed is that in order to make certain changes we need to accept the current situation, whatever that is. Acceptance is a positive word and the whole concepts originates from free will. It is not resignation and it is not forced upon the person.


Even Freud saw that the changes happening in therapy parallelled a gradual process of acceptance of the self: acceptance of life as it is and not the way we wish it to be.


To accept something is to receive it, as we receive a gift. Often it feels like there are no other options but to accept something, but in fact there is the option to not accept it.

Contrary to mainstream beliefs, acceptance is not a passive attitude, in fact it is a very active behaviour as it involves the choice of accepting life as it is. It embraces life’s positive and tragic aspects.


To accept life as it is does not mean that we should not attempt to make changes and to better ourselves, but it means that we agree to stay in the current situation as long as it takes while we patiently move forward, step by step. Of course in order to accept we need to become aware and to acknowledge first.

A discipline such as meditation for example can help the individual keep an internal focus and begin the process of self-acceptance, while managing external situations that need attention.


I believe that acceptance and change go alongside each other. For example while we accept our current situation we make small changes in our behaviours and attitudes. A counsellor or psychotherapist can help with this and can offer a different viewpoint.

This concept of acceptance might initially feel like it will slow things down, but in fact it will provide the individual with essential tools for real and lasting changes.




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