I once had a conversation with my English teacher about therapy. She told me, “everyone should go.” Turns out my therapist was also in therapy. My best friend and I had the same therapist. While I agree with my teacher, the accessibility and waiting times are shocking. So, whether you’re about to start treatment, or don’t have access, here are the things I learnt in therapy:
I didn’t feel ‘ill’ enough
While I knew I needed help, the process of a psychological evaluation (don’t worry, it’s just questionnaires…on the phone) made me feel like I wasn’t ‘sad’ enough to warrant receiving treatment. This was me minimising my own mental illness. The same way the school nurse would just stick on an ice pack and you’ll be fine! When you actually broke your arm.
People need three things to help raise a low mood.
Connection to others, something you love and a sense of achievement. For me, finding something I love to do meant reconnecting with my inner child and what she loved.
Breathing techniques are a legitimate way to stop a panic attack.
Things don’t just get better.
You have to put in the time to want to better yourself, it will feel like a chore. A therapist is a brilliant start to recovery but you have to cooperate. I expected results straight away and got pissed off when I still felt the same after two sessions.
It isn’t just about talking.
Homework you have to do between sessions. I felt so silly and often thought ‘how are these exercises on identifying thought patterns’ going to help? And sometimes they don’t help, but then you adjust and try something new.
P.S pretending to do the homework does nothing but slow your process. Don’t lie to yourself and don’t waste your therapist’s time. They care for you.
I struggled with this for so long. Therapy wasnt theraping the way I thought therapy would. If you’re feeling dismissive, ask yourself if you are fully committing to the treatment. Do you go to every session? Are you honest about how you feel? Do you do the work? Do you want to get better?
Deep rooted beliefs often manifest in behaviours known as ‘safety’ behaviours.
For example, someone who suffers from Body Dysmorphia may not be able to walk down the street without checking their reflection in cars or windows. The safety behaviour is checking their perceived flaw and if it’s ‘ugly’ (the deep rooted belief).
No one actually cares about you as much as you do (in a good way, no one cares enough to judge, everyone is too busy worrying about themselves.)
Lastly, another thing I learnt in therapy is that it’s a maintenance tool.
Once you finish your treatment, you don’t just stop doing all the techniques otherwise you’ll slowly fall back into bad habits. A plan for coping should have been discussed with your therapist.
If you’re looking for treatment, you don’t have to go through the GP.
Sheffield IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) – https://iaptsheffield.shsc.nhs.uk