So you’ve never been to see a therapist but you’re considering it. How does therapy work?
First and foremost, you can talk to a therapist about your emotional problems. It may feel good to vent to a therapist when you don’t feel comfortable venting to friends or family. Maybe friends and family have heard enough and can’t anymore. Maybe you’re not comfortable telling friends or family your issues or demons. Please know that Therapy is more than venting. It’s more than getting a reality check. Therapy is about receiving objective feedback about why you are the Way You Are. At its most fundamental level, therapy is about receiving emotional support. However, please ask your therapist what their psychotherapeutic style is like, so you’re not too surprised. It may not work in one session, you may need to come back once a week for six months at least.
Therapists can take three or more sessions to get to know you before any deep interpretations are provided. An interpretation from a therapist can mean that the therapist is providing insight regarding why you are the Way You Are. It may also be an observation which you may or may not already know. It takes time for patients to feel comfortable telling the therapist their True story in its entirety. You can see it’s a learning curve from both the sides.
Ask your therapist specific questions about how they work because all therapists work differently. Some therapists do not give advice. This is because they believe that unsolicited advice is never appreciated and solicited advice is almost never appreciated. Some therapists will only reiterate to you how you feel and will give you no advice. It’s difficult to find a therapist who will tell you what’s wrong with you because therapists are supposed to be supportive and build self esteem.
Therapist used to say that if the patient has changed a little in 3 years, then the therapy has been effective. That if patients realize what they are doing unconsciously in 3 years, then the therapy has been effective.
Today most people don’t have that kind of time. Today, if your behavior has changed in 9 months to a year in weekly therapy, you have done well. Patients who take therapy seriously and do their homework / who work on their changing their maladaptive behaviors in between their sessions may change in 6 months if they’re lucky.
That’s how long it takes to change one’s psychology and behavior. It only works when the patient is dedicated, consistent and desires to change from within. Basically, if therapy is easy, then you’re not doing it right. It’s like a workout for your mind and heart. However, some patients go to vent their frustrations and that can feel pretty good. If you quit therapy after 3 months, you haven’t really done anything. If your therapist gives direct objective feedback, you may have received it, but it’s still going to take time to apply it in your life. It’s going to take some time intellectualizing that advice in your head to actually feeling the Behavioral change in your heart. You’ll have to work on it everyday, or pretty often, to feel that behavioral change as second nature.