Dr. Patricia Whitt, psychologist and owner of LakeView Psychological Services, says it’s music to her ears when a client or caller says, “I want to change” or, better yet, “I’m ready to change.” The desire to change and willingness to change open up a universe of possibilities.
Of course, the journey doesn’t end with the statement of a desire to change. The nature of the human experience is that even when parts of us want to change—even when most of our ambivalence is leaning in one direction—change is still challenging. Parts of us were attached to the old way of being. Parts of us might find sameness comfortable.
Although different models of psychotherapy deal with factors pulling against change in different ways, an effective therapist will listen for the parts that don’t want to change as well as those that do. One model of psychotherapy that deals directly with the counter-change forces is Internal Family Systems therapy, developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz.
Dr. Schwartz observed that in the early days of his career, sometimes after he thought he had a clear agreement with a client to reduce or stop a behavior, that behavior might recur with more vigor than before. Sound familiar to any of your change efforts?
One of the most common patterns is for an individual’s “inner critic” to try to nag or criticize negative behaviors enough that change happens. Unfortunately, an internal barrage of negative criticism may make problem behaviors more likely rather than less likely.
If you are ready to change, including to understand what has been making your self-change efforts less effective than you’d like them to be, check out the website of Dr. Patricia Whitt, licensed psychologist and psychotherapist, at www.lakeviewpsychological.com or call (704) 896-6068 for an appointment.