WTF is Therapy?

I think I suggest going to therapy at least once a day, if not every other day.

It may have something to do with my training in psychology and counseling. Or maybe it’s the fact that I have been personally changed by it in game-changing ways. Either way, I encourage all those I know (and some I don’t) to seek therapy from a qualified counselor at least once in their life.

The main misconception people have about counseling is that you have to be “crazy” to seek help. Most of the time counseling sessions are mentioned or shown in the context of treating major mental illness. And while, this is certainly a part of the job, it’s not all of it. And, for the sake of holistic care, it shouldn’t be.

Most counselors would tell you that the best way to treat a mental health issue is to practice preventative methods so as to not have a crisis at all. This comes from learning how to navigate the world in a way that makes sense to your unique needs, as well as learning how to handle the unexpected. Coping skills and practicing healthy boundaries is a BIG part of the process.

And you learn all about this in therapy.

Therapy is a lot of things…

Necessary.
Healthy.
Life Changing.

But there’s a few thing therapy is just not.

These Three Things

First, therapy is not just about listening. Now that is a HUGE part of it, after all you really can’t help someone if you don’t have a great idea of the problem. And the only way to learn this is by listening. Really listening. A good counselor will be listening to all the words you say as well as all the ones you don’t. But a key part of therapy is helping you do the work. It’s about asking the provoking questions that lead you to go deeper in thought and meaning. Your counselor is not only there to hear about your problems but also to help you create a way to get through them.

Which leads me to the next point… Therapy is not the place where someone will tell you what to do. A counselor’s job is not to make decisions for you, but rather give you the necessary information you need to make life changing decisions and help guide you to your answer. Your therapist is a helper. Think of it like someone riding right beside you on this “road of life”. This person is simply in the passenger’s seat holding their google maps equipt phone and you are driving the car.

And finally, therapy will not fix you.
Yea, I know what you’re thinking…”well why the heck am going?!” Don’t worry, that’s a typical response to this bit news. I’ve seen plenty of people go to treatment thinking that if they go a set amount of times (say 6 to 8 sessions) things will get better. And they do sometimes. It depends on the underlying issues, the openness of the client (you) and the quality of the time spent in sessions. But just because you are feeling relief from the crisis as a result of the work you’re doing, it doesn’t mean that you are “cured”.

Let’s think about some common mental health issues like depression and generalized anxiety. These two diagnoses, in particular, can be ongoing conditions… ones that will more than likely be with a person for all their life. But, someone with anxiety is not always at the mercy of it. Some times they’re able to use preventative measures to divert a crisis or use coping mechanisms to give themselves relief.

Typically, these mental health concerns don’t really go away. However, they do become more manageable and less disruptive because you can learn ways to manage the “symptoms”. In this way, therapy is actually a treatment plan, able to be executed at any time. And not just any kind of treatment plan… a lifechanging one.

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