What Therapy IS
With all this talk of what therapy is not, it is also probably helpful to know what therapy IS so that you can know if it is for you and if you feel that you are a good fit with your therapist.
An Opportunity for Growth
Because therapy is not “just talking” or bouncing ideas off of a friend who simply agrees with you, therapy provides an opportunity for the therapist to use their training to objectivity to explore how your perceptions of life are either accurate or inaccurate and are either serving you or not serving you.
About Coping Skills
What you “do” in therapy is learn. You learn about yourself and are offered education about the brain, trauma, symptoms, and relationships. You also get to explore and practice coping skills. If you want things to change (after all, why did you get help in the first place?), developed skills are what you need.
As you are learning why and how to change things, whether symptoms or relationship patterns, therapy will integrate multiple areas of your life in order to set you up for the best health possible. If you are having panic attacks, it is also probably a good idea to explore how your consumption of caffeine affects anxiety. If you have a history of childhood trauma and have difficulty sleeping, it is helpful to understand how the brain changes following trauma and what symptoms, like sleep issues or nightmares, are common. If you come from a culture where mental health is not “legitimate,” that is something to incorporate into discussions about healing. Therapy cannot be successful unless all areas of the mind, body, soul, and spirit are addressed given that everything affects everything else.
Short or Long Term
Many feel passionately about therapy being a lifelong pursuit. After all, can you ever really be “fully grown” or finally know everything about yourself and the world? We are not perfect. So, to have support, even if short term through a crisis or major life transition, can make a world of difference. Having the same therapist that is a constant source of predictable support through many phases of your life can be particularly powerful for some. For others, a therapist with specific specialties and skills can be sought out depending on one’s needs at that time. Regardless, therapy is flexible. It can be a foundation and it can be a catalyst. In the end, therapy cannot be what you do not allow it to be. Ultimately, then, therapy is what you make of it.
So, ask around. Google people. Take some time and take inventory of the kind of professional you would feel comfortable with (e.g. gender, age, experience) and get clear on what you want your focus to be during that time in order to accomplish what you want to change in that time with your therapist. They are a resource, so continue to shop around, like you would with anything else, to find the perfect fit that helps you to become your best self.
~Ashley Carter Youngblood, LMSW, LMFT, CADC, ADS, NNP, CIMHP, CNRC
Ashley Carter Youngblood is a licensed Clinical Social Worker, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional, Nutrition Network Professional, and Certified Nutrition Recovery Coach who has been in the field since 2007. She offers counseling at her woman-owned business, Inner Peace Counseling, PLC, for those in Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan, Battle Creek, Paw Paw, and the surrounding areas of Southwest Michigan. She is passionate about her work with clients, whether it’s providing traditional individual counseling, life coaching, acupuncture, or Amino Acid Therapy for mental health symptoms. Her specialties include holistic healing, counseling for women, anxiety, nutritional interventions for mental health, and support for Highly Sensitive People/Empaths.
I welcome you to contact me or leave any questions or feedback you have about this post. Please keep in mind that the above information is the opinion of an individual, should not be considered medical advice/treatment, and is for entertainment/educational purposes only. I write these blogs as an expression of my passion for wellness and with the hope to be able to help as many people as possible. So, for more information about how to safely navigate this website and to what terms you are agreeing upon use, visit my Disclaimer page. And, as always, if you are experiencing an emergency, contact 911 or present yourself to your nearest emergency room.
Thanks for reading.