Quotes from leaders in psychology reinforce some of the things we already know about therapy.
Their perspective is helpful and backed by scientific evidence and experience.
Aside from prominent psychology figures, social media is saturated with inspirational quotes.
I couldn’t afford therapy, so I just watched ‘Frasier.’ Season 4 was a breakthrough.
Often, these quotes capture an essence of truth, and that is what the next quote reflects upon:
The chief difficulty for those who begin the study of scientific psychology is that men indulge in popular psychology.
While science isn’t always “social media sexy” or popular, it is indeed inspirational post-worthy.
Let’s then take the opportunity to explore famous quotes in psychology that have stood the test of time and will resonate with therapists and clients alike.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
The 7 Best Quotes on Therapy: Do They Ring True?
The following quotes ring true because they are healing focused. They help summarize some beautiful concepts in positive psychology.
As the great Chris Peterson would say, “Other people matter,” and these psychologists would apparently agree.
Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful parts of us.
Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.
Once you start making the effort to “wake yourself up” – that is, be more mindful of your daily activities – you suddenly start appreciating your life more.
Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.
The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.
The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no one recipe for living that suits all cases.
A failure is not a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.
B. F. Skinner
All of these quotes are beautiful examples of how viewing therapy from a place of growth and healing reframes the process.
This can be incredibly helpful for those who stand in fear of it. Therapists get into the business to help other humans heal. Moving humanity forward comes from that foundational stance.
5 Inspirational Therapy Quotes Worth Writing Down
These five quotes are mostly for practitioners. Providing therapy is such an important job, and being inspired in that job helps us find purpose in our daily activities. After all, therapists are also human. It is hard work, holding space for difficult emotions.
Always remember that for each patient you see, you may be the only person in their life capable of both hearing and holding their pain. If that’s not sacred, I don’t know what is.
Corner Canyon Counseling, author unknown
Success as a therapist is not found in doing something for the client, but rather in being something for the client.
Ili Rivera Walter
If you plan on being anything less than what you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.
Meanings are not determined by situations. We determine ourselves by the meanings we ascribe to situations.
Positive psychology is not remotely intended to replace therapy or pharmacology. So when depressed, anxious or in panic or post-traumatic stress disorder, I’m all for therapies that will work. Positive psychology is another arrow in the quiver of public policy and psychology through which we can raise wellbeing above zero.
5 Quotes on Group Therapy
Group therapy is such a connective and powerful way to help guide people in the healing process. The interconnectedness that is present in group therapy is not like ordinary groups. Participants in the process have a deeper understanding of one another.
Supportive peers and shared experiences are powerful spaces for healing provided in group therapy. Long-standing groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and other substance misuse organizations focus on humans helping humans. Having a nonjudgmental place to honestly reveal thoughts around certain behaviors can motivate massive change.
People need people – for initial and for continued survival, for socialization, for the pursuit of satisfaction. No one – not the dying, not the outcast, not the mighty – transcends the need for human contact.
The following quotes are used frequently in Alcoholics Anonymous to reinforce the mindset of recovery. They are commonly used as mantras for group participants.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
The Serenity Prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr
What other people think of me is none of my business.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.
The healthy person finds happiness in helping others. Thus, for him unselfishness is selfish.
4 Memorable Quotes on Couples Therapy
Relationships take work. It may not seem like it will in the delicious, gooey beginning of love. Still, most couples realize that certain skills and deeper understanding of certain concepts in psychology are the keys to remaining in lasting partnerships.
Couples therapists teach those special skills and hold their patients as equals in the development of their relationship.
Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it’s a practice.
Great marriages aren’t about clear communication – they’re about small moments of attachment and intimacy.
Dr. John Gottman
Being the “best you can be” is really only possible when you are deeply connected to another. Splendid isolation is for planets, not people.
Dr. Sue Johnson
Lack of communication can drive a spike between two people wider than any physical distance.
Mark W. Boyer
5 Quotes on Child Therapy
Therapists who work with children have a unique understanding of healing in childhood. They understand the importance of letting a child remain innocent, despite perhaps facing childhood trauma.
This type of therapy requires a loving and supportive person who can hold space for another who is still developing.
The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.
Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.
When the feelings of the parents are ineffective or too ambivalent, or when the emotions of the mother are temporarily compromised in another place, the children feel lost.
Play is a child’s work, and this is not a trivial pursuit.
The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change, and the most powerful therapy is human love.
Bruce D. Perry
2 Quotes That Missed the Mark
These were determined to have “missed the mark” because they are assumptions. Labels are hard to handle in therapy and in life. Therapy seen from a loving, supportive lens allows for less criticism and judgment. Therapists and clients should be mindful of assumptions.
I have lots of great personality traits. Or as my doctor calls them… symptoms.
People with dark personalities tend to create a physically attractive veneer.
Nicholas S. Holtzman and Michael Strube
While the study by Holtzman and Strube (2013) was fascinating to read, this quote could be widely misused. Not everyone who has a physically attractive outside is dark inside. The study is incredibly insightful, though.
A Take-Home Message
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
We all take inspiration where we can find it. Something may resonate with you more than it does the next person. Being mindful of where inspiration is birthed, though, is very important. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it will personally serve you.
Decide for yourself where you pull your inspiration from and be mindful of what you allow to influence your perspective. Your social media feed may not be the most reliable space, though if that works for you, celebrate it. My quote book is filled from too many sources to list. Psychology is a beautiful place to draw powerful inspiration from.
Thanks for reading!
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- Abraham Maslow – American psychologist who created the hierarchy of needs; www.brainyquote.com
- Albert Ellis – American psychologist, developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy; www.goodreads.com
- Alcoholics Anonymous quotes from Rich Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life, and Earl Nightingale, author of How to Completely Change Your Life in 30 Seconds www.goodreads.com
- Alfred Adler – Austrian medical doctor and psychotherapist. Founder of school of individual psychology; www.goodreads.com
- Anna Freud – Austrian–British psychoanalyst. Daughter of Sigmund Freud; www.exploringyourmind.com
- B. F. Skinner – American psychologist and behaviorist; www.goodreads.com
- Bruce D. Perry – American psychiatrist, Senior Fellow at the Child Trauma Academy; www.azquotes.com
- Carl Jung – Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology; www.goodreads.com
- Carl Rogers – American psychologist among the founders of the humanistic approach; www.brainyquote.com
- Corner Canyon Counseling – Offers inspiration to therapists and clients alike.
- David Richo – American psychotherapist, author, and leader of popular workshops www.goodreads.com
- Dr. Sue Johnson – Author and well-respected relationship therapist; Hold Me Tight; www.goodreads.com
- Erich Fromm – German social psychologist; From his book The Art of Loving; www.goodreads.com
- Erik Erikson – German–American psychoanalyst and developmental psychologist; www.erikerikson.org
- Holtzman, N. S., & Strube, M. J. (2013). People with dark personalities tend to create a physically attractive veneer. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4(4), 461–467.
- Ili Rivera Walter – American family therapist; www.therefreshedtherapistnetwork.com
- Irvin Yalom – American psychotherapist and author of The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy; www.goodreads.com
- Karl Muenzinger – German American psychologist; www.wiseoldsayings.com
- Margaret Mead – American cultural Anthropologist; www.goodreads.com
- Mark W. Boyer – Author and relationship expert; www.wisefamousquotes.com
- Maya Angelou – Most inspiring American poet to this romantic soul; www.goodreads.com
- Robert Biswas-Diener – Positive psychologist, author, and workshop leader; www.positivepsychology.com
- Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Afterword: Breaking the 65 percent barrier. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. S. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), A life worth living: Contributions to positive psychology (pp. 230–236). Oxford University Press.
- The Gottman Institute – Renowned relationship experts; www.gottman.com; https://hbr.org/2007/12/making-relationships-work
- William James – American philosopher and psychologist; “Father of American psychology.” www.goodreads.com