Is Talk Therapy Right for You?
I believe that different types of ‘talk’ therapy can be of great benefit for people who struggle with illness. From my perspective, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a full-blown mental health issue or IBS.
Anything that is causing emotional or mental distress can be relieved by a good therapist…if you are open to it and willing to do a little work. In my experience (I’m a social worker), I think that folks, in general, believe that if they just ‘sign up’ for a therapist and go sit in the room with them, that something miraculous will happen. This couldn’t be further from the truth. So how exactly do you get any benefit from this process? I’ll try my best to share my experience.
My experiences with therapy
First, I’d like to say that I don’t believe that this type of therapy is for everyone. I don’t even think it’s for everyone with serious mental illness. What I mean by this, is that unless you are willing and able to have an honest, frank discussion about what is truly bothering you and able to accept support and/or advice, then you will be wasting your precious time and money.
Therapy is give and take
Therapy is a give and take, and very often, you will be giving more than you are taking away. Therapists can have very different approaches. Some will ask probing questions in the hopes that they will provide a catalyst for some self-discovery, believing that the only true relief will come from within. Other therapists are more prone to supportive advice and suggestions, and others will simply listen and validate your feelings. I could go on.
This is really important to understand because I’ve heard from so many people that they hate therapy and that it is worthless. In many of these cases, it’s because they haven’t found the right therapist. The ‘right’ therapist depends on the relationship between the patient and the therapist, personalities, techniques, and many other components.
Therapy is a process
This is a lot like trying new medications. The process may be unpleasant but may provide great rewards with perseverance. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky on your first try. I was one of those lucky few. I was with her for 6 years, weekly. She was from New York, tough as nails, and had worked with some very difficult characters. This was perfect for me. I need someone tough, who will challenge me. You may have hated her. This is a good example of finding the right situation.
Find a therapist who is right for you
Once finding someone whose personality and style works for you, you have to hold up your end of the bargain. You should be prepared to address very specific issues regarding your health with the therapist so that you can feel as though you’ve expressed what you need to and the therapist knows what you need support with. This requires being prepared and completely open. If you withhold things that you are uncomfortable about or just don’t feel like sharing, you really won’t get much from the session. It took me a long time to find the benefits, but once I did, I can honestly say that I would not be managing my health, IBS and otherwise, nearly as well. Just food for thought.
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?