In the last article, I shared about some myths of therapy which may have stopped people from accessing therapy. One of the key elements to a successful therapy is ‘commitment’- you need to commit to the therapy in order to make it work. Indeed therapy is not something easy for everyone to commit to. This is particularly true as we are quite depressed and demotivated from our current life baggage.
One of the common reasons for many clients to give up therapy after seeing the therapist/practitioner for the first time is an expectation problem. Many approach therapy not really sure what to expect, but surely they know how they feel after the session – disappointment. ‘Gosh this therapy takes time. It is not something I could afford.’ Somehow we get the feeling we are not able to make the journey happen. We think we will set ourselves for fail. We will overinvest and feel it is a waste of time. Again, I highlight that therapy brings benefits to people and there are many cases of transformative growth/healing out from therapy work. The challenge here is how to make the other positive cases to YOUR OWN LIFE CHANGE.
If we can have clarity even before we approach therapy, we will be able to have a constructive conversation with the practitioners, and ultimately feel more in control and confident about leading our own change. Here I share some of the thinking traps which many clients have overcome and move on to have a successful therapy.
- Be ready to accept that therapy is not a quick fix.
How therapy works often remains as a mystery or ‘just a talk’. It is much more than that. Scientific research has proven many therapies have evidence based support.
Therapy is a process. You keep on molding and exploring what works for you. You learn as you recover from your pain and difficulties. In some days you feel you make a big progress; in other days you still feel defeated after the session. But you do grow. The most important thing is that you ARE NOT ALONE (see Point 4 on finding a good therapist). Your practitioner works alongside with you to help you find your best journey.
Many clients indeed have shared with me that learning hit them (‘Gosh I didn’t realize I have changed!’) as they continue to engage with therapy – some after weeks, some after months.
2. You need to be motivated to attend therapy in order to make it work.
Therapy is not an unusual product we could own and instantly get gratification from. It is more like purchasing the gym membership and workout sessions and you need to spend time to train your fitness. Just buying the fitness package does not make you fit. You need to commit to the training to see your gradual change. This is the same for therapy. From my work experiences, I have accompanied many clients who blossom in their self-growth and healing. It does take time, but positive changes do happen. And so it leads to the third point that we need to truly commit to therapy in order to make it work.
3. Therapy is a commitment. It takes time before you see it work.
People often have a negative assumption that ‘undergoing therapy support is like burning money’. Therapy does work. It alleviates psychological suffering from mental health difficulties, and also in the long term help people rebuild a constructive mindset in dealing with things and difficulties. It promotes self-awareness such that people can make better life decisions and build positive relationships with the others and the self. It helps people connect with their most inner potentials and fulfillment in life.
However it is also true that it takes time before positive changes emerge through therapy. From this point this is why therapy is a selective choice. Not everyone may want to afford sufficient time or money to invest on this self-change. However, if you are determined to remove yourself from some of the vicious cycles in life, or eager to have a transformative change in life, therapy is a good commitment. You own the change you make and this change is sustainable.
4. The best and worst part of the therapy is…your relationship with the therapist.
Like any other human service, psychologists/therapists are the key to your success in therapy. Everyone is qualified and has received the text-book standard training. However, everyone has got the own life experiences and diversifying working style. It takes a split second before you know whether you have a good chemistry with the practitioner, for instance (but not all),
- whether you feel comfortable interacting with the therapist;
- whether you can share out your problems to the therapist;
- whether you feel the therapist is genuine and you feel cared for
- whether you feel the therapist could relate to you
- Therapy requires your trust of the therapist.
Opening up about your own problem, and particularly working on the problem which you are stuck with for years is a very challenging work. Therapy is the reason that you do not have to deal with the problem alone. However, then you will need to find the ‘right’ person you can trust. Not all practitioners may make you feel that way, and you may still feel like you are experimenting after you start the therapy.
5. Preparation is useful: Think about what you look for before you even start the dialogue with the practitioner.
Believe or not, even you feel you have nothing to say to the practitioner in the first encounter, 15 minutes of preparation does help a lot before you start the session. You help yourself set a good emotional state, you are having clarity on your mind, you are tuned in to the ‘thinking’ mode instead of just getting on with your daily chores…
If you can, you can even just jot down a few things you already been bothered about. Put a few phrases, like ‘I was feeling agitated all the time and I don’t know why.’ Being able to put things down is always a way for you to feel more at ease and that you are making some progress. You will be more relaxed when seeing the practitioner for the first time, and more naturally bring up your issues in the conversation.
Therapy is a self-work. Many still feel ups and downs during the therapy sessions. You may feel like having to take a high road to betterment. In some days self-doubt is there and you question yourself whether you are in the right direction. Don’t be disheartened by your fear and doubt.
Remember your deepest goal – you want a better life. You want to move on from your deep-rooted problems. The problem is not just about making a good investment or not, but the urge you want to make things work.
I hope that the tips will help you gain insight and confidence onto how to find the right therapy and practitioner for you. I hope you will have a clearer mind to build a good mindset and motivation to let therapy make a positive change in your life.