Some time ago I wrote about what happens during the first session with a psychologist. Now, I’d like to talk about what therapy itself is like.
Between the myths that exist about mental health, the different types of psychotherapies, and those who call themselves counselors without the necessary preparation, there is much confusion about what even goes on during therapy.
This is such a broad topic that several books could be written about it (and, in fact, there are). But I simply want to share some fundamental things about what it is like to go to therapy and what you can expect from it. If you are considering seeking psychological counseling, or you just want to know more about therapy, continue reading.
What is it like to go to therapy?
To initiate a therapeutic process or psychological counseling is to invest in your emotional well-being. Going to therapy means attending sessions – present or online – with a trained psychologist, in which you’ll have time for yourself. This time is not only to decipher your emotions and thoughts, it’s also to trace a path to change.
If you’re interested in psychology, surely you know the great importance that listening has in a therapeutic process. You probably also have heard that it’s through talking and the power of catharsis that people are partially released from a heavy weight they’ve been carrying.
Both statements are true. But let’s be honest: you can speak to and be heard without going to therapy. Meeting with friends, talking to your family, asking someone you trust for advice… sometimes that’s all it takes to take off the weight. But other times, the discomfort is still there. And no matter the advice you’re given or how many self-help books you read, you feel that you need something more. That’s where therapy, and obviously the therapist, comes into play.
Going to therapy is an opportunity to see your problems in a different way with someone who is qualified for that and won’t judge you.
Someone who can recognize that nobody knows more about you than yourself, but at the same time, has dedicated his or her professional life to understand and observe how people change and what guidelines are necessary to make change happen.
As my colleague Dr. Mila Petkova writes:
You go to therapy so that the therapist can use all the obtained knowledge in order to facilitate your own transformation. We are not there to tell you what to do with your life.
Imagine that you hire a fitness instructor. Of course you will advantage of his/her knowledge, but he/she won’t lift the weights instead of you.
Of course, in therapy you won’t be given advice. Instead, you’ll find someone to help you clarify what’s important to you so that you can make decisions that are consistent with your values and desires. So you can appropriate your life.
Therapy is a way to alleviate emotional distress. It is a safe space where you should feel free to say everything you think. Not only to get relief though. The aim is for you to recognize yourself in your speech, weave thoughts with emotions, and take action.