There are a lot of different types of therapy
If the only thing you know about therapy is what you've seen in films then you are probably expecting a nice couch where you lay down and talk about your deepest, darkest fears. That's not totally wrong, but there are all sorts of types of therapy you could find useful. Some are intensive counselling for things like grief or addiction, while others are just meeting once a week for some fine tuning. You can also do group therapy, couples therapy or just one on one. You don't have to have a big, traumatic reason to go to therapy. You just need to want to learn more about yourself and hopefully improve your life in the process.
Finding the right therapist is like dating
Much like finding the perfect man, finding the perfect therapist requires trial and error. Some therapists are more tough love, some have a more nurturing style, others ask a lot of questions, while some just listen. You need to find a therapist that is right for your type of personality as well as one that can understand you. I.e. do you want somebody male or female? Old or young? Older therapists may have more experience and perspective, but younger therapists may be able to relate to you better. Like I said, think of it like dating.
Know what you want out of therapy BEFORE you start seeing a therapist
The first thing any therapist is going to ask you when you start meeting with them is what you want to get out of seeing a therapist. Is it something specific like anxiety or getting over the loss of a loved one? Or is it more general like wanting to feel more content or more confident? Knowing what your ideal end game is will not only help you pick a therapist, it will also help you stay focused the weeks it feels like your therapy doesn't seem to be doing much of anything.
Opening up to a therapist is really difficult
I have to say that I am not the type of person that keeps their cards very close to their chest, I'm a pretty big sharer. But it took me almost 6 months to actually be brutally honest with my therapist. Eventually you'll get into the nitty gritty stuff and that means opening up about difficult topics, and some crying will probably be involved. It also means reflecting on things that you may not like hearing about yourself or the people you love. So be patient with the process, it will take time to start seeing results.
You learn that the one factor all the things in your life have in common is you
I used to indulge in "pity party for one" routine all the time, where it seemed like all of the bad things in my life were happening to me. I felt like I was the victim of my job sucking, my boyfriend being selfish, my apartment being a dump, my grandma dying etc. Sure when it rains, it pours, everybody has bouts of bad luck. However, you are the common factor when it comes to all of the good and bad in your life. So if you don't like your life, change it. After a year in therapy I quit my job, changed careers, got a new apartment, broke up with my boyfriend, got closure with my grandma and treated myself to a fierce new haircut. Now all the good things I have in my life also have one thing in common: Me.
The process of therapy is a lot like a roller coaster
Some weeks you'll go in and feel like you've made progress and some weeks you'll go in and feel worse than you did a month ago. Every week is going to be different, as long as you feel like you are on the right track be as patient with yourself as possible and trust the process. One or two "bad" weeks in a row does not mean that you're not making long term progress, so expect it to be an up and down practice.
Be open to seeing a psychiatrist
Psychologists and psychiatrists are two different practices. Although both listen to you talk, psychiatrists have been to med school and can prescribe medication to help you with your therapeutic process. Sometimes no matter how much emotional self reflection you do with a therapist, you can only get you so far. Things like depression and anxiety often require chemical assistance to manage. Although there are stigmas attached to needing anti-depressants or other psychological medication, don't be afraid to try them if they are recommended. They will produce positive results that therapy won't be able to do alone, and often they are not permanent solutions.
You HAVE to go weekly
There are going to be times you feel like skipping therapy because you don't want to talk about anything or maybe you're having a good week and don't think you have anything to talk about. The honest truth is you only get out of therapy what you put in it, and that means giving at least an hour weekly to working through what ever you need to. So show up and enjoy the fact that somebody has to listen to you talk about whatever you want for a full hour.
It is hard to see much downside from indulging in therapy after my experience. As long as you go into it with an open mind, have an end goal of want you to achieve, find a therapist that can help you meet those goals and commit to going weekly. So treat yourself to some self reflection and positive improvement in the new year, you can't go wrong.
Did you have a good experience with therapy? Tweet at us! @sofeminineUK!
This article was written by Dagney Pruner. Follow her on Twitter @dagneyp
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