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Understanding Therapy

Alyson Ryan, LCSW provides insight into what therapy is and how you could benefit from it.

I love to teach – especially students learning to be mental health professionals.

When my summer course on Health Counseling started this past week the very first question I asked my students was “What does a counselor or therapist do?” It is a question many people either do not know the answer to or have false beliefs about. Even my students don’t fully understand, at least on their first day of class.

Some of the answers they gave me might be similar to what you may think. “A counselor gives advice.” “A counselor tells you what to do.” “A therapist works with someone who is crazy and fixes them.” “A therapist tells you what is wrong with you.”

My response to my students is “No! – Those are exactly the things a therapist or counselor does not do.”

So what is therapy all about? What do we do?

I like to think of my role as a tour guide or a good pair of glasses.  I am there to accompany my clients on their journey toward peace, happiness, fulfillment or whatever THEIR goals are. I point out information they may not notice on their own, I help them understand their history. Together we work toward finding a solution to their struggles, healthy ways to cope with current life stressors. Like a pair of glasses, the therapeutic process allows them to see more clearly. We work to identify their strengths, build self-confidence, and validate their feeling and experiences. I am there to support them in their choices – without letting my own agenda get in the way. I create a safe environment where they can see their own solutions to problems and struggles. I give feedback on observations I notice taking place in our relationship.

It is hard work to come to counseling.

It is also rewarding work.

It is beautiful and life-enhancing.

It is always an honor and privilege for me to join my clients on their journey and serve as their tour guide.

Alyson Ryan, LCSW

Alyson Ryan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and co-founder of South Bay Wellness. 

She is passionate about assisting individuals on their journey to live a more fulfilling, peaceful and rewarding life. 

She can be reached at

For more information on Alyson Ryan, visit her bio page at

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