This week I had my last session of psychotherapy after nearly 4 and a half years. Obviously I can go back if I feel I need to but the idea is that I feel I have been helped enough by my therapist now.
I’ve been going to therapy since April 2014. That’s a big commitment right? If someone had told me I would still be seeing my therapist over four years later, I’d probably have panicked. But now? I can’t imagine not going to therapy regularly. Over the last couple of years I have gradually dropped my sessions down to every two weeks and now every month. To start with I think there is this fear of being stuck in therapy. But is being trapped in your emotions or in a negative thought cycle not scarier that dealing with them in the end? Not dealing with your negative thoughts can be a passive way out, and one that long term can be more harmful. When I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I had this irrational fear that I had a bright neon sign over head that announced by diagnosis to everyone. When I started therapy this feeling emerged once more because going to therapy can feel exposing. Once I settled into the rhythm of therapy, I found it allowed me to talk without judgement about myself and my feelings for an hour. Yes, it can feel a little strange at first but how often to you find yourself having an hour to talk only about yourself? And to talk to someone completely detached from your life who will not pass judgement.
What makes therapy difficult to explain is that it is by its very nature a personal experience. The key to successful therapy however, is to find a type that fits with you and also a therapist with whom you feel comfortable. Therapists are professionals and should not be offended if you let them know that you don’t think they are a match for you. In fact, my first therapist, who was winding down her practice and knew she would not be able to see me long term, recommended my current therapist.
I know for some people the idea of admitting you might need therapy is just that, an admission, and something of which to be ashamed. I have always tried to be open about going to therapy but I definitely had doubts about going at the beginning. I don’t think it should be something of which to be ashamed. How often do you feel afraid of telling your friends that you have been to the doctor to treat flu or a chest infection? How can looking after your health, mental or physical, be a weakness? I believe the power in reducing this stigma is from each one of us talking about it as though it is normal, because it should be nothing extraordinary. I still sometimes doubt myself speaking about it outside of my friends until I remember seeing other people online talking about their problems and how it made me feel less alone, less unusual.
As I find myself thinking more and more now before doing new things, what is the worst that can happen? You may go to therapy and not enjoy it or not get on with it and if that is the case, you don’t have to continue going but all I can say is that it may be worth trying. It’s this change in my attitude that I think I have to thank therapy for and I’m sure there will be more changes in me for the better as I continue to live and grow.
The words therapy and therapist are starting to look strange to me from writing them so much now and really, that is the only time I hope they should appear unusual to anyone. It also means I think I have finished writing my thoughts on going to therapy for now!