My readers may discover that I like categories and lists. One of the lists I have been working on for a little while are the options a client has when thinking about how to approach a situation that they would like to be different. Sometimes the core of a complaint or goal is that a person wants to feel differently about a situation-increase satisfaction, decrease stress, or generally feel better about something (e.g., going to in-laws, getting an exam back from the teacher, parenting, etc.).
There seem to be two general approaches to feeling differently about a situation. One can actively change the situation (influence) or accept the situation (adapt) for how it is and work to be content with it. There is no great discovery in this summary of change-either your situation changes (for whatever reason) or you change. In one form or another, this has always been the content of the therapy hour.
Why do we need therapists? Situations are often nuanced (requiring a combination of both adaptation and influence), and we all have certain biases that help us make bad decisions. The process of change is hard, and discovering what needs to change can be a mystery. Good therapists have skills, experience, and insights about all of this, including the process of change.