While a willingness to go to therapy is necessary, there is more to the therapy process than that. Being curious about yourself and the world you live in is an important part of the therapy process. With this is the need for being open to the answers you uncover as a result of your curiosity and accepting what is.
Now to be clear, when I say “acceptance,” I don’t mean this as “approval.” Rather, I mean this as acknowledging the reality of what’s happening. This includes accepting how you’re feeling about what’s happening. Acceptance in this sense allows you to recognize the reality of your experience. By doing this you can identify changes that you can make.
In this blog post, I’ll be looking at the role that curiosity and acceptance play in the therapy process.
Curiosity: Its Influence on the Therapy Process
Along with a willingness to engage in therapy, comes curiosity. “Curiosity” in the context of therapy is a desire to understand yourself and situation. What are the reasons that you’re feeling the way that you are? How are you actually feeling? What are actions that you could take to change your situation?
A mindset of curiosity can start opening the door to understanding things about yourself that you don’t yet fully understand. Having a sense of curiosity about yourself and your experience allows you to learn and grow. By being curious, you can recognize patterns and identify ways that allow you to be your authentic self.
Open-Ended Questions to Promote Curiosity During the Therapy Process
While it’s important to be able to tell one’s story, I also believe that it’s important to go deeper than the story. This is because there is usually more to the story. And this is where questions come in as a way to encourage more curiosity into what’s going on.
Open-ended questions can invite you to explore your experience. Some questions that I often ask in therapy are:
- What are you noticing right now?
- How would you like it to be?
- What do you think is getting in the way?
Questions Leading To More Questions
With this first question, I’m encouraging the person to connect to the present moment. Being aware of one’s present moment experience can provide us with important information. For example, are you noticing tension anywhere in your body? What’s your breathing like? Are there certain thoughts or feelings that are coming to your mind right now? (Can you see how this can bring up even more questions that can elicit even more curiosity?)
This second question invites the person to identify and envision how they’d like their experience to be. It allows for the opportunity to imagine things being different. What would the ideal situation be like? Yet, answering this question can sometimes be difficult because for some people it can be hard to imagine life being any other way.
This difficulty in answering can also provide us with useful information, though. What is it that makes it hard to imagine your situation being any different? (Again, we continue to foster curiosity as a way to better understand what’s going on.)
The third question somewhat relates to the previous point I raised. If you can imagine your situation being different than what it is, what is getting in the way? Are there beliefs you have that are holding you back?
Perhaps you’re holding on to emotions and feelings that need to be expressed so that you can move forward? There may be some hard conversations that you need to have with others. In other cases, it may be about identifying ways that you could change your environment so that it works for you.
Holding a Non-Judgemental View of Your Answers
The answers to all of these questions can lead you towards growth in the therapy process. With this, it’s also important to allow the answers come up without judgement. There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. This is something that is also important to keep in mind for the next part of this post, acceptance.
Ways That Music Can Promote Curiosity in the Therapy Process
But first I want to briefly touch on how music can help promote curiosity in the therapy process. As a music therapist and counselor, I may introduce the use of music to the therapy process. This is because music can help us access those deeper parts of ourselves that are hard to express. It can bring up thoughts, feelings, and memories that we may have otherwise forgotten.
Music can leave us wanting to know more about ourselves and others. For example, in this post, I wrote about how music therapy can help you explore how you relate to others. It can also help you explore and develop your identity. This is especially true for teens.
Acceptance: Its Influence on the Therapy Process
As I mentioned earlier, acceptance in this context allows you to acknowledge what is. Knowing and understanding what’s going on, makes meaningful change possible. It can also lead to more curiosity about what is and what is possible, which can lead to more questions.
Now this isn’t to say that acceptance is easy. It can take some time to get to a place where you can accept what is. Be gentle with yourself and remain open to whatever it is that is coming up for you. There are no “right” feelings, nor no “wrong” feelings. There are simply feelings and they are trying to tell you something.
Working With Denial in the Therapy Process
In being gentle with yourself, that also includes when you can’t handle your feelings. It’s ok to not feel what’s going on nor accept what’s going on. Yet, while there is some benefit to denial, it doesn’t serve you in the long run to stay there. 
If you find yourself stuck in denial, some questions we might explore in therapy are:
- What is it that you fear about this situation?
- What are some possible negative consequences if you don’t take some sort of action?
Ways That Music Can Foster Acceptance in the Therapy Process
Music can foster acceptance in a few different ways. One is that through making music, the nervous system can get regulated. With that can come a sense of grounding. These things make it easier to be able to experience things as they are. This includes being able to experience your own feelings as they are, as well.
Similar things can happen when listening to music. The music can help you feel grounded in your body so that you can see things as they are. As well, music can elicit memories, thoughts, feelings and associations that can be felt in a safe way. Through the therapeutic relationship, we can explore what’s coming up for you and how to accept it.
Growing Through Curiosity and Acceptance in Therapy
As I hope you can see, curiosity and acceptance are an important part of therapy. Being curious about what’s going on and being open to what is in the moment can lead to growth. I also hope that you can see how the therapeutic use of music can be a helpful way for facilitating curiosity and acceptance.
If you’re curious to learn more about yourself and how music therapy might help you, contact me. At SoundWell Music Therapy I use music to support curiosity and acceptance in a safe, non-judgmental space. I provide music therapy to teens and adults of all ages. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation during which we can talk more about what your needs are. You can schedule here.