The Profile Dossier: Phil Stutz, the Therapist Offering Practical Tools to Help You Navigate Life
"The highest creative expression for a human being is to be able to create something new right in the face of adversity."
Phil Stutz doesn’t have time for what he likes to call “loose talk” between therapist and patient.
The renowned Hollywood psychotherapist has built a reputation around action. He offers his clients practical “tools” to help them grapple with the endless challenges they’ll have to endure throughout their lives.
“In Western culture, the assumption is I have to have a certain level of success in order to feel good about myself, even to feel human, but it’s not true,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “What you have to do is take action before you know who you are. Before you know what’s supposed to happen. If you can do that, then you can become confident.”
But before you can begin the journey of self-improvement, Stutz says you need to accept one fundamental truth, which is that there are three aspects of reality no one can avoid. They are pain, uncertainty, and constant work. “What will make you happy is the process,” he says. “You actually have to learn how to love the process of dealing with those three things. That’s where the tools come in.”
Stutz developed these practical tools out of necessity. When he was nine years old, Stutz inadvertently became his parents’ pseudo-therapist after his brother passed away at three years old. “My parents, who had limited emotional resources, never recovered,” Stutz writes in the book, The Tools. “Every evening my father would come home from work, sit in his rocking chair, and worry. Over the next few years, I realized my job was to reassure him. In effect, I became my father’s shrink.”
Being under that kind of pressure as a kid gave Stutz the strength to address his patients’ pain the only way he knew how: through his instincts. Over the decades, Stutz rejected the traditional notion of therapist as passive listener and objective third-party. Instead, he inserted himself into his clients’ narratives and armed them with practical tools he had developed over the years.
“The most profound value of a tool is that it takes you beyond what happens inside your head,” he writes. “It connects you to a world infinitely bigger than you are, a world of limitless forces.”
The tools he has developed have helped his clients stop obsessive worry, discover true confidence, extinguish out-of-control anger, and even develop an unshakeable resilience in the face of tragedy and chaos.
As Stutz says, “The highest creative expression for a human being is to be able to create something new right in the face of adversity, and the worse the adversity, the greater the opportunity.”
Here’s what we can learn from the therapist whose work can offer relief from your most persistent problems while helping you restore hope in a higher power that’s constantly working in your favor.
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