Making the Case for Therapy and How to Make the Most Out of Your Therapeutic Relationship
by Pamela L. Tippit, LPC-S
A part of my job of delivering effective therapy services is talking to clients about what therapy is and is not. And although receiving therapy and discussing mental health has become more prevalent in the past few years, many people still remain hesitant about entering therapy. First, let me say I completely understand! I go to therapy and although I am a therapist, that first session was anxiety provoking to say the least! But that fear of opening up and asking for help was quickly minimized by all of the positives that I gained from actively and consistently participating in the therapeutic experience.
In May of this year, I asked clients if they were willing to do a mental health challenge and many of my active clients took up the challenge. The mental health challenge simply required the client to identify issues that they wanted to make progress on, address issues of need or concern for them, and/or make goals and actively work on them. This challenge was not to be confused with completely eliminating problems, but making an intentional, consistent effort on prioritizing mental health.
Wow! I never imagined when I challenged my clients to focus on their mental health they would completely CRUSH it!! Words really cannot even begin to express how amazed I am by them. Although I did offer a prize for full participation, the true reward was the progress, smiles, and the wins, (both big and small) that my client’s gained. A couple of the big finishers were gracious enough to share their mental health journeys with you all. What stands out in their stories is their commitment, not only to therapy, but to themselves and their mental health. Read on to learn about what helped them:
“At one point my biggest weakness was fighting off intrusive thoughts that convinced me I was someone that I am not. It was making me very anxious, and I would always give up because I wasn’t moving forward as fast as I needed to. I was almost convinced that life would always be nothing more than a stress- filled event that I’d never find enjoyment in. Pam taught me how to reframe (change the perspective of trauma inducing situations), to watch my “emotional spending”, and to fight only the battles that need the most attention, not all of them. We have been working together for a little over a year. Coming in was very hard. I had to open up about things that I never wanted to confront and things that made me uncomfortable. I had to tell her the thoughts that would enter my head that I felt as if no one should hear. Time was all I needed and to closely study these new ways of thinking and find ways to implement them every
day in my life to help me get my brain to working order. I never saw the potential that I possessed until Pam taught me tools and practices that started helping me clear things up. Because of her support through therapy, I have started to see my fears as challenges. One of my fears was always social anxiety and getting embarrassed. I would purposely avoid going to certain places because I was so scared of getting uncomfortable. Now I’ve made leaps and hurdles towards being less afraid to be uncomfortable. I stopped focusing so hard on what could go wrong, and I started giving equal attention to what could go right. That opened so many opportunities: whether it be moving forward with my entrepreneurial endeavors or getting relationships and making new friends. It opened paths I never believed possible at one point and turned them into everyday things. Therapy can give you the tools that you need, and you choose how much you use them. I never believed that it would be easy, and I didn’t believe that the tools would cure my intrusive thinking and my social anxiety completely, but I did believe that they would help me much more than no tools at all. I use them every day and they help me get the job done better than I ever could have before. Life will always have ups and downs but now I am way more aware of that and I know that both have their beginnings and ends. And when I am the most down, I never stop believing that good days are coming and that the feeling is temporary. I have officially reframed my fears into challenges, and I know once I face them, there is a much bigger challenge just behind. The stronger I have gotten, the more confident I have gotten in my ability to beat those challenges. I have never been so proud of myself and wish I could have told my way younger self to see Pam. She truly helped me see the silver lining in my life and not just focus so hard on the grey. I finally feel I am living, and not surviving.” -Z.D., current client at Blissful Mind Behavioral Health.
“Going to therapy has helped me in more ways than one. While all of them have been important in improving my mental health and quality of life, I believe learning how to set up boundaries with people who I love and don't want to upset, as well as others who I felt the need to please, has been one of the best things for my mental health. Being able to set boundaries and tell people NO has changed my life and given me back so much time and energy that I had lost in trying to always please people and keep the peace. Learning how to enforce boundaries was extremely difficult, and can sometimes still be hard, but seeing what a difference it has made, made all the hard work worth it. While it was a challenge to get past the uncomfortable feeling of being disliked, or people being unhappy with the boundaries I set, it is a challenge I would take again to have the mental and physical freedom I have now.
Along with setting boundaries, learning how to cope and work through intrusive thoughts has also been a life saver. Learning how to sit with those uncomfortable feelings and allowing myself to take the time to feel the emotions that come with them rather than trying to block them out or obsess over them is a daily lesson that I feel I am getting better with every day. Tracking those lows and highs was instrumental in being able to talk with not only Pam, but also my doctor to ensure I was getting the correct treatment and medications. I know medication will not fix everything, but it is an important tool along with the tools I have learned through therapy to be able to move forward in life and be happy again.” -C.P., Current client at Blissful Mind Behavioral Health.
If you have considered therapy, but just were not sure about moving forward with it, the goal of sharing these testimonials is to show you how most people feel the same way about asking for help and opening up, but the gains can definitely outweigh fears. If you are looking to change your life in ways that these individuals have, reach out today to schedule for your consultation, with ANY practitioner that seems to be a good fit for you, and see if this is the right step for you.