If you’re a regular reader, you won’t be uber surprised to learn that I know a thing or two about therapy, counselling, psychotherapy…whatever you wanna call it. Talking therapies are one of the best ways to help you through grief, relationship issues, mental illness and of course, self development. I studied Psychology & Counselling as a youth, and have a pretty solid degree in it too. So I know a thing or two about how to navigate your way through the therapy maze.
If you’ve made the decision to start therapy, you are taking control of your own happiness, and peace, which can only be a good thing right? The problem I have found when people start therapy blindly, with no research and a healthy dose of confusion, is that if they have a bad experience, they decide that ‘therapy’s not for them’. Despite the fact that not all therapists are created equal, and not all models of therapy are right for all. So, what I want to do is share a few things to think about before you start your journey of Psychotherapy. Cheese on toast, sure, but I hope it will help you find your way through the maze to see a bit of a clearer path forward. There’s also a FREE checklist for you to print off too.
Different Types of Psychotherapy
There are hundreds of variations of therapy, which are known as models of therapy, or frameworks or theoretical approaches…..you should get an understanding of a few main types, so that you can decide what is going to be the right road for you.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): It’s likely you will have heard of this, and will also have been told that the NHS only offer this. That’s not true, but it is true that CBT is a very effective model of therapy. It works by challenging identifying unhelpful thought patterns, and giving you the tools to change them. You need to out the work in too, though, and it isn’t the quick fix people presume it to be. You can be in therapy for as little as 6 weeks, but realistically, if you have severe depression, CBT won’t work it’s magic in such a short term.
Psychoanalysis (and the deeper Psychodynamic) therapy is my personal favourite form of therapy. I believe that delving into your childhood, and formative years is the key to unlocking unhappiness and working on the root of depression.Yes, the theories are rooted in Freudian philosophy, so an emphasis on the unconscious mind is key, but I have never discussed the stereotypes from your mind, because you likely won’t be lying on a chaise-longue while your therapist asks you about your sex life.
Humanistic/Person Centred/Gestalt/Existential focuses on empowering and unlocking your capacity to make rational decisions and be in the present. To be clear, these are all different variations of therapy, but terms you may want to look up.
Interview Your Therapist
I am endlessly surprised when people say “I tried therapy once, but I hated my therapist so I stopped going”. The example I always use is this: If you had a haircut and hated your hairdresser, would you stop getting your haircut full stop? Unlikely. So, do your research, speak to them on the phone and ask questions about their theoretical approach and how they work with their clients. Have a session, and let your intuition guide you! I tried three therapists before I settled on my current one, and even now — I have decided that I may want to change to a different therapist who has more experience in a form of therapy I want to pursue. It doesn’t negate the work I’ve done thus far, but I can’t emphasise how important it is to take ownership of your own treatment.
Be Honest, Be Authentic
You won’t move forward, or agin anything form therapy if you don’t tell the truth. Sometimes that’s hard, because you have to say out loud things that you feel ashamed of. To do this you need to believe you are in a safe environment, which basically means that you have to trust your therapist…hence why taking the time to pick them first is so important.
I meet so many people who I believe could benefit from therapy, but wouldn’t at the moment as they wouldn’t be able to be truthful and authentic. I was exacty the same a few years ago, and wasted money on therapy that I wasn’t committed to, and didn’t put enough work into. Which neatly leads me to……
Put The Work In
You are the only one who can heal yourself….cheesy as that sounds. You HAVE to believe you can. You HAVE to want to change, and you absolutely have to be truthful. Admit the icky things that make you cringe. Be vulnerable and take away the homework you get (mine is simply noting situations, behaviour and actions with regards to anxiety, mood etc).
Some things I found helpful:
Irvin Yalom: Love’s Executioner : a brilliant, accessible read by one of the fathers of Psychotherapy.
The It’s Good To Talk website, for finding a good therapist (who is BACP accredited)
This blog about mindfulness is a little bit of calm, and nice to start of with if you are want to dip your toes into dedicating time to your mental health upkeep.
AND your free checklist awaits >> click HERE!
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