Often, I come across clients who say nothing has worked for them. That they’ve tried everything and that everything has failed. They may think that their disorder is refractory (one that doesn’t respond to treatment), or they may think that the therapist was not right for them, or they may think that they didn’t get the right support from their families. While all of these may be true, in different measures for different clients, sometimes therapy may not work for these clients because they may be missing out on one crucial detail. Their own role in the recovery process. In my opinion, in order for any kind of treatment to work, apart from all the other factors being relatively favorable, what is really required is for the client to be WEARY. Unlike its dictionary meaning, the acronym WEARY represents a completely ‘soaked in the process’ state. Each of the letters represents a different quality expected from the client.
W – Willing: The client has to be a willing participant in the recovery process. If the client does not want to recover, or doesn’t have faith in the process, or has been forced into therapy against his will, or is not willing to put in the required effort, the therapist cannot force the client to move ahead with therapy. As the Chinese proverb goes, ‘Your teacher can open the door but you must enter yourself’. In the absence of that, therapy will not work.
E – Enthusiastic: While willingness is critical, some clients are willing, yet not enthusiastic. They approach therapy from the standpoint that nothing else has worked, and maybe this won’t either, but I’ll try it because I have no other option. That won’t do. The client needs to be enthusiastic about his recovery. If the effort is half-hearted or if the approach is lack lustre, the recovery process will definitely be affected and recovery will be hampered
A – Accepting: Acceptance is key to recovery. The client has to be accepting of a few things completely and totally.
1. A problem exists. This is to be acknowledged. Being in denial about the problem stymies the possibility of a resolution. Accepting that the problem exists, allows us to explore the contours of the problem and enable total resolution.
2. It is ok for the problem to exist. No one in the world is entirely problem free. And you’re not the only one with this problem. There are others as well. Being ok with the problem does not mean not working to eliminate it. Being ok with it means not letting the problem become an excuse for not trying to recover.
3. A solution exists. Unless the client accepts that a solution exists, there will be half hearted effort to get better. The client may not be able to see the entire solution and, may be just the first few steps, but that doesn’t mean the solution does not exist. The client needs to have faith.
4. The solution is going to be a difficult path to follow. The solution is not a magic pill, or a magic potion. The solution is hard work. And the sooner the client realizes this, and accepts it, the better.
R – Receptive: Being receptive means having one hundred percent faith in the therapeutic process. The therapist may suggest changes in lifestyle that may not seem directly connected to therapy, and the client may neither clarify nor follow. The client may prefer to use his own intelligence, and follow only those instructions, which in his opinion are directly related to therapy. That is where the process is likely to break down. It can be frustrating for the therapist to see the client following one part of the process diligently and disregarding the other part completely. Complete faith and unconditional adherence (after understanding the whys of the steps, if needed) allows the therapist to also offer innovative ways of dealing with the problem, and even breakthroughs, rather than be restricted to the conventional methods and see limited success.
Y – Yearning: This final element is missing in a few clients which disallows them from giving the solutions an earnest shot. I get to hear statements like, ‘I’ll do what you say, but if it comes in the way of my studies, I’ll have to stop it’, or, ‘With this, my work shouldn’t get affected’, or, ‘will my sleep get affected because of this? I don’t want my next day to be lethargic’. When clients say this, subconsciously they’re prioritising studies, work, or sleep over the chance of recovery. And this is something that the clients may not be aware of, so they have to be made aware of this. Because if the client is Willing, Enthusiastic, Accepting, and Receptive, but misses out on this element, this may still act as a stumbling block.
Hence, if the client is not completely WEARY, he may soon become weary of the process and give up.