Dr. Verlis L. Setne

(512) 480-0212


Where Does Psychotherapy Fit into the Recovery Process?

Dr. Setne's philosophy of counseling 

A Private Practice Psychologist Shares a Point of View

You wake up in the morning, again feeling like the day holds only work for you, and you aren't looking forward to getting up. Or maybe you're constantly trying to keep people in your life satisfied, rarely feeling relaxed and secure. Or deep down inside you know that "you keep hitting your head against the same brick wall" but don't know what to do instead. Depressed. Anxious. Angry. Stuck.

Sometimes it’s not that bad—you’re not suffering much. Instead, off and on you have a niggling thought that life has far more to offer you than you’re getting. You’re aware that the quality of your everyday life could be better. You know somewhere inside you that you can have more satisfaction, adventure, and enjoyment than you presently have in your activities and relationships.

The private-practice psychologist is a consultant in individual mental health and emotional well-being. He or she is the person with whom you invest time, energy, and money in a regularly scheduled collaborative effort to look at what you’re doing with your life, what other things you can do, and what you’re thinking or feeling that gets in the way of making the changes you want to make. The effort usually involves intellectual struggle, emotional pain, the “high” of sudden insight, and deep satisfaction at succeeding in some new course of action.

The therapist’s job is to listen, understand, clarify, question, “toss out” options, educate, and respect the client’s integrity. The client’s job is to think and reflect, feel, delve, report, question, try out new ways of acting, and evaluate the outcome of new actions to determine what, or if any, modifications would result in greater effectiveness and satisfaction.

In the recovery process from addiction, follow-up psychotherapy is an adjunct to the peer support group (AA, AlAnon, ACOA, . . .). Its purpose is to rebuild a life or to build a new life. You are saying to yourself, “I am setting aside a specific time each week during which I will focus on my life and on what I’m doing in the presence of an expert on emotional and mental health who will challenge and support me in my recovery and growth.”

To me, as a therapist, beginning therapy with a new client is like opening a new book. The story begins somewhere in the middle of this person’s life. The client is the hero or heroine of the book. If there were no conflict, no confusion or fear, no cast of supporting players, there would be no book. If the hero never made a mistake or, with no struggle at all, could handle all of life’s challenges easily and perfectly, there would be no book. If all were summed up quickly on one page, there would be no book.

The journey of psychotherapy can be a better journey than any through a book, however, because the client and therapist together can influence the direction of the story—or, at least, the character development of the hero.