How seeking the answer can lead to previously unimagined inquiries.
"I think now that the great thing is not so much the formulation of an answer for myself, (for the theater, or the play-) but rather the most accurate possible statement of the problem." Arthur Miller
This quote could be a description of psychotherapy. However, the back and forth dialog of the therapy relationship and the internal observation of the patient, continuously define, re-define, and move forward toward that "...most accurate possible statement of the problem." So, as I have mentioned before, I remind you again that therapy is a process; therapy is not a 'quick fix'. The effort can lead to insights. But, there are no instant answers in therapy.
However, on the way to the accurate statement of the problem, other things are happening. Today, one of my patients, relatively new,- I've seen her for a few months now, said, as she left, "I am learning so much about myself-more than I ever knew before." The patient is experiencing the benefits of a healing relationship, learning new skills---for example, how to self-observe or the value of having both your thoughts and feeling in gear at once, the relief of being truly listened to, and heard, and more. This particular patient has been able to make a partial shift in her outer life as a result of her progress in therapy but she is far from a resolution to her presenting problem. And, yet, as you can see, she is a real life example of the value of being in a personal growth process, in and of itself.
Sometimes another thing happens: While being engaged in formulating the problem, the problem itself evolves. As the patient grows, what is a problem to her may change. Or, possibly a more essential level of the problem will emerge.
Some people, once having been introduced to a personal growth process, find it is something they want to continue throughout life. A formal growth process (and I believe that there are others besides psychotherapy) does not have to be constantly engaged. Many people find, after their initial experience with therapy, that they want to employ it as a resource, to make use of, as needed.
Self-actualization (term coined by Abraham Maslow) can be an exciting, compelling life quest.