The Journey of Therapy 2 (Working at Therapy)
Continuing the series on therapy, let’s have a look at what it takes to get something out of therapy.
Therapy can be really hard work. Depending on what brought you to seek therapeutic service in the first place, the therapy space will demand a lot from you. I have often said to clients and patients in the past; “Therapy doesn’t really happen in these four walls – the real work of therapy happens out there, in your everyday world.” Be prepared to enter this process expecting to do hard work on yourself. One cannot engage with therapy at an arms length – jumping in and being honest and open is how real work can happen. The changes that need to be made in your life will be challenging to make and committing to the process is just as difficult!
Considering that engaging in therapy is going to be hard work, some preparation should go into it. Here are a few things that I would recommend that one should think about:
- Take time out for therapy
- If you are able to (it is not always possible) try to schedule your session at a time when you will not have many demands placed on you directly afterwards. Having a space to digest and think about what has happened during a session can be very helpful. Some people like to jot down or record some notes about a particular insight they gleaned from that session to think about further. In the same vein, after an emotional session, it is nice to be able to return to equilibrium at your own pace and not because you have to rush back to work.
- Explore the cost of therapy
- The financial costs of therapy are only one of the demands that the process places on one. It is important to recognize that therapy also incurs an emotional cost. Therapy can leave one feeling drained and it is important to have not only the support of family and loved ones but your own space during a therapeutic process. Make sure you are ‘paying back’ into yourself, by doing something you enjoy or that ‘feeds your soul’ so you can regain some of the emotional energy you spent in session.
- Be bold with your therapy
- Remember that this is your therapy! Ask your psychologist questions, tell them your concerns (even about therapy itself – we won’t be offended!) If you are feeling anxious about sharing or opening up, start with that anxiety and explore why it is difficult for you to do so. If you are worried that you do not have enough emotional resources to go into depth or to explore some of your past hurts, bring that to your session (even your first session if you have just found a new psychologist.)
Therapy is not a magic wand that gets waved and your problems are solved. It is an engaged process that requires active participation from you and rewards you with the fruits of your own labour.
Look after yourselves and be kind to yourselves.