"What exactly does a person trained as a family therapist know how to do," you ask? What a wonderful question! The full answer to that question is quite complicated and requires that you take all our courses. But, I'll try to give you the short answer: People who see therapists want to change something in their lives, something that is causing them pain or discomfort. When a person goes to a therapist, he or she is looking to change someone (maybe themselves, but often a husband or a wife, a son or daughter) or something (say, a circumstance, such as an irritating habit, or perhaps an emotion or state of mind such as depression, anxiety, fear, anger). Family therapists are trained in the art and science of facilitating change, which, as it turns out, is a rather complex business. Helping someone else change, even when they want to, is hard to do. You've probably noticed how difficult it is to change something in your own life, even something that you really want to be different. Ever tried to change your attraction to chocolate cake? Tried to make yourself feel less anxious? Stop your habit of procrastinating? Force yourself to go to sleep, when you're wide awake at 3 am?

People often turn themselves into pretzels trying to change someone or something that causes them pain. When they find nothing works, they may turn to a therapist. A good therapist knows how to facilitate the changes a person wants to make, assuming, of course, that the desired changes are even possible. But that's another topic, one we cover in your courses, so we'll have to leave that for another time.