My therapist looks like Sandra Bullock. Except younger, cooler, and prettier -- no shade to Sandra. I’ll refer to her as H. H is a LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) and we talk about stuff. I also have a psychiatrist that handles the medication side of things.
This is a post about CBT therapy.
CBT aka Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, focuses on the relationship between emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It works by identifying problematic behavioral patterns and actively creating solutions to change those patterns.
When I first started seeing H—we did Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy – which focuses more on the “parts” of the self and how they all relate to each other.
I hated it.
I spent a good 3 months fretting about what she would think because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. In the long run, I realized that the only person that suffered from my lack of speaking up.. was me.
There’s a horrible, awful stigma about therapy. Why?
Most of the reasons I’ve heard aren’t worth my time. Here’s a list of why I think therapy IS worth your time:
1. If you have a toothache you see a dentist. If your vision is blurry you see the optometrist. If you have a cold you see your primary doctor. If you are having mental struggles…Why not see a therapist?? It’s their job! A mental illness isn’t any “better” or “worse” than a physical one.
When we don’t have the tools to better ourselves, we need to acknowledge that and find the proper solution. Therapists and Psychiatrists tend to have great toolboxes.
You can’t drive with a flat tire. If you have no way to fix it, how are you supposed to get home?
2. You get to learn about yourself. One of the things I love about therapy is that I’ve been able to learn more about who I am as a person.
When you go to therapy, you can learn about what you like, what you don’t like, and more importantly why you feel that way about those subjects.
A lot of the time, we make decisions on how we feel about something, but never dig deeper than that. For example: I hate outside. I don’t like going outside at all – I try to avoid it at all costs. When I was reflecting about why I currently have such a large aversion to the outdoors, I could trace one of my reasons back to a childhood camping trip. When I moved a layer past that, I could label what the feelings that I experienced were. That experience was so strong that I would prefer to avoid it. Forever. Don’t worry – one day there will be a post about my outside!hatred.
You can learn SO MANY insightful things about yourself by trying to elaborate… to yourself. A lot of people don’t want to do that out of fear. Don’t be afraid of yourself.
Humans are so complex. Understanding our home base (and inner self) is of the utmost importance!!!
In CBT therapy, you directly address the thoughts you have, and try to answer: "How do I know this thought or belief is true?
My dislike of outside isn't irrational (to me) because I am able to assign a catalyst to its origin.
3. Even if you don’t suffer from depression, anxiety, ADHD or another mental illness, that doesn’t mean you are barred from seeing a therapist.
THEY DON’T KNOW ANYONE YOU KNOW! IT’S GREAT!
Depending on what kind of person you are, the opportunity to just talk about yourself can be refreshing.
Maybe you feel like you’re not being heard in your everyday life.
Maybe, you have so many thoughts bumping around inside that setting them onto the therapist’s couch is needed to relieve some mental tension.
A problem that I frequently grapple with is my trouble with identifying the emotions or reactions that I’m having.
I sometimes second guess if what I’m feeling is what “everyone else feels” or if I’m over-reacting.
LATELY -- I have been starting to practice mindfulness and meditation-- which is another way to approach thoughts. I'll discuss this more in the future.
At therapy, I’ve learned that my thoughts and experiences are valid. I've also learned that sometimes my thoughts are just thoughts, and nothing more than that.
Final Thoughts (teehee):
Pick someone that matches you as a person. Sometimes you might have to “shop around” until you find the right fit. The most important element of therapy is the relationship you and your therapist have. Also, do your research. Anyone can claim to be a therapist (or life coach, blah blah). Make sure that you're choosing a PROFESSIONAL.
There is a lot of vulnerability affiliated with this. Choosing to go to therapy in itself is extremely courageous.
Be open to asking for help – honestly -- the fact that a lot of intimate and personal stuff is discussed during sessions, the stigma of therapy really isn't unfounded. Remember: being vulnerable is what therapy is about, which is why the relationship is so important.
Because you are taking a step toward improving yourself – others can be quite judgmental about your decision.
Don’t tell anyone that they should go to therapy. Phrasing like that just makes people defensive. You can suggest it but ultimately, it’s an individual’s decision-- and if they don’t want to—they won’t.
On the flip side, don’t discourage someone that is thinking about going to therapy. Because that’s what unsupportive people do. (BOOOO)
BUT! if you have any inkling or curiosity about therapy… I would go AND STICK WITH IT. IT can honestly change your life. Just knowing where my mindset is today compared to a few years ago is astounding. I still have progress to make.
Try journaling. And if you do journal-- try to everyday.
Here’s why: if daily entries aren't possible – update with good AND bad moments. It can be disheartening to try and reflect on past posts, only to find a catalog of negative thoughts. (I am guilty of this—have been for years.)
It’s also nice to get your words out of your head and onto paper.
SONG OF THE POST:
Let me know if you have any questions or comments!
PS: Therapy is an act of self-care. We like that here.