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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Doing the Work


Earlier, when listening to “Work” by ATFC and The Cube Guys, I was reminded of a meme attributed to therapy culture—the convergence of de-stigmatized psychotherapeutic processing and popular cultural trends (e.g., advocating safe spaces in schools and the workplace). 


The phrase “doing the work” is an oft-used description of the psychotherapeutic process and this term is reflected in a number of memes and videos across various social media platforms. Further describing this expression, one source states:


Conventional therapists of a certain persuasion might tell you that doing the work means being perfectly honest, not withholding information, being willing to identify negative emotions and revisit old wounds. And showing up for lots of therapy sessions. In some schools of therapy, the idea is that there has to be a lot of blood and guts, lots of crying, lots of visiting old negative emotion. Lots of history review.


Practitioners of different psychotherapeutic modalities may explain what “doing the work” means in accordance with their particular approaches to therapy. Even though I’m a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) clinician, other REBT practitioners may describe this phrase in a different manner than I.


When establishing mental health services with new clients, I issue an informed consent document pertaining to the work we will do together. This form requires agreement from the client, verified by a signature or electronic verification process. An example of verbiage on the form is as follows:


The Therapeutic Process

You have taken a very positive step by deciding to seek therapy. The outcome of your treatment depends largely on your willingness to engage in this process, which may, at times, result in considerable discomfort. Remembering unpleasant events and becoming aware of feelings attached to those events can bring on strong feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, etc. There are no miracle cures. I cannot promise that your behavior or circumstance will change. I can promise to support you and do my very best to understand you and repeating patterns, as well as to help you clarify what it is that you want for yourself.


Engagement in the process, or “doing the work,” relates to clients showing up to their scheduled appointments on time. It also involves active participation from the client. After all, REBT is a directive modality (i.e., mutual dialogue) and I’m not prepared to do all of the talking.


This process also involves understanding of, belief in, and practice of REBT techniques. In sessions, roleplay, disputation of irrational beliefs, and other methods are used to assist clients.


As well, I negotiate homework with clients, as the majority of their psychotherapeutic work occurs outside of sessions. Whether in- or outside of sessions, there remains an emphasis on the word “work” that is aimed at helping people get better rather than merely feeling better.


Of this, I’m reminded of something I heard in both counseling and social work graduate programs. “Never do for clients what clients are able to do for themselves,” and, “Don’t work harder than the clients,” is what I was advised by seasoned clinicians.


Not unlike the lyrics of “Work,” which state, “Work, work, let your body work! Let’s work!” I use a similar approach to working with clients. Only, I advocate, “Work, work, let your mind work! Let’s work!”


While I laugh at some of the memes and videos related to “doing the work,” this phrase has an integral role in the practice of purposeful and meaningful psychotherapy. If you’d like to know more about how you can do the work, I’m here to help.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As the world’s original electronic dance music (EDM)-influenced REBT psychotherapist—promoting content related to EDM, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters. 


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW



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