Digesting psychotherapy

Last updated:

12 November 2012


therapeutic quotations

"... Good words.
     That's where ideas begin."
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

It is remarkable how a few well-chosen words can capture the essence of a situation, challenge our thinking and inspire us to change for the better. This collection of quotations can help clients, therapists and anyone else contemplating therapeutic change.

Please contact us if a quotation is inaccurate or wrongly attributed, or if you have any suggestions to add to the collection.

keeping an open mind

Keep your hands open, and all the sands of the desert can pass through them. Close them, and all you can feel is a bit of grit.
Taisen Deshimaru

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.
Shunryu Suzuki

There are always possibilities.
Mr Spock - Star Trek

"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first - verdict afterwards."
Lewis Carroll

If a man will begin with certainties he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.
Francis Bacon

Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Mark Twain

The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new horizons, but in seeing with new eyes.
Marcel Proust

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Mark Twain

motivation and change

No one knows what he can do till he tries.
Publilius Syrus

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.
Beverley Sills

Better to fail at doing the right thing than to succeed at doing the wrong thing.
Guy Kawasaki

Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
John Wooden

Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising every time we fall.

If there exists no possibility of failure, then victory is meaningless.
Robert H Schuller

Think of what you have rather than of what you lack. Of the things you have, select the best and then reflect how eagerly you would have sought them if you did not have them.
Marcus Aurelius

Given the choice between changing one's mind and proving that change is not necessary, most people get busy on the proof.
Professor John Kenneth Galbraith

God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Change and pain are part of life, but suffering is optional.

You can never plan the future by the past.
Edmund Burke

It is never too late to become what you might have been.
George Elliot

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
Carl Bard

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Sometimes problems are maintained simply by the fact that people think and talk about them excessively.

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke

The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
Albert Einstein

We avoid the things that we're afraid of because we think there will be dire consequences if we confront them. But the truly dire consequences in our lives come from avoiding things that we need to learn about or discover.
Shakti Gawain

beliefs and viewpoints

Before you call me difficult, try wearing my shoes.
Egyptian proverb

When finger point at moon, don't look at finger or you'll miss the moon.
Bruce Lee - Enter the Dragon

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
William Shakespeare

We see things not as they are, but as we are.
H M Tomlinson

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill

Belief sickens, belief kills, belief heals.
Robert Hahn

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the minds of others.

Stability is an illusion created by the memory of an instant.
Buddhist saying

Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel.
Horace Walpole

Experience is not what happens to you - it's how you interpret what happens to you.
Aldous Huxley

Psychological stress is as much a function of how we see the world as how the world really is.
Dr Paul Martin

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to their colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.
Leo Tolstoy

observations on life

Counterfeiters exist because there is such a thing as real gold.

Until lions have their historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter.
African proverb

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
Mahatma Gandhi

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Eleanor Roosevelt

How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
Thomas Jefferson

Generous people are rarely mentally ill.
Dr K Menninger

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.
Charles Dickens

The biggest problem in the world could have been solved when it was small.
Lao Tse

Life is never fair. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.
Oscar Wilde

Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.

Anyone can become angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not easy.

The close stitching of mind to body means that each communicates its fortunes to the other.

Our genetic heritage endows each of us with a series of emotional set-points that determines our temperament. But the brain circuitry involved is extraordinarily malleable; temperament is not destiny.
Daniel Goleman

What ails the truth is that it is mainly uncomfortable, and often dull. The human mind seeks something more amusing, and often caressing.
H L Mencken

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.
Mahatma Gandhi

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.
Chinese Proverb

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.
F P Jones

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common - this is my symphony.
William Henry Channing

against conformity

The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity.
Dr Robert Anthony

It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.
Albert Einstein

I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

No one can drive us crazy unless we give them the keys.
Doug Horton

Someone's opinion of you does not have to become your reality.
Les Brown

When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.
Thomas Szasz

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
Elbert Hubbard

It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races.
Mark Twain

What you think of me is none of my business.
Terry Cole-Whittaker

the craft of therapy

Therapy is often a matter of tipping the first domino.
Milton H Erickson

Do not become the slave of your model.
Vincent van Gogh

[Psychotherapy] is an unidentified technique applied to unspecified problems with unpredictable outcomes. For this technique we recommend rigorous training.
V C Raimy

People do not come into therapy to change their past but their future.
Milton H Erickson

Emphasis should be placed more on what the patient does in the present and will do in the future than on a mere understanding of why some long-past event occurred.
Milton H Erickson

It is more important to know the person who has the disease than it is to know the disease the person has.
Sir William Ostler

Some patients, though conscious that their condition is perilous, recover their health simply through their contentment with the goodness of the physician.

Despite the achievements of the last century, orthodox medical practice, unlike the scientific disciplines on which it is founded, remains by and large a matter of observation, opinion and experience. A knowledge of the wrong turnings of the past is essential if the doctor of today is not to be arrogant in his overestimation of his powers.
Roberto Margotta

As artists and traders in medieval cities began to form organizations, they instituted tough initiation ceremonies. Journeymen in Bergen, Norway, were shoved down a chimney, thrown three times into the sea, and soundly whipped. Such rites made belonging to the guild or corporation more precious to those who were accepted, and survived.
Isaac Asimov

useful links

There are a great many websites with collections of quotations relevant to therapeutic change. Here are some of the most comprehensive ones:

Quotations Book
The Quotations Page
The Quotations Archive
Quotations Home Page
Creative Quotations
Famous Quotes
Best Inspirational Quotes

Further links may be found through the directories:

Google Web Directory: Reference > Quotations
Yahoo! Directory: Reference > Quotations


Disclaimer: This website only provides general information derived from research findings. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a mental health professional about an individual case. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and objectivity of information on this site, the authors accept no responsibility for the consequences of errors or omissions. Information about the practice of psychotherapy and counselling in the United Kingdom and/or Scotland may not be applicable in other countries. External websites are linked in good faith, but their contents cannot be vouched for.

Where unattributed © 2003-2010 All rights reserved
based on design by Andreas Viklund