Friday, 20 May 2011

Therapy

I had my first appointment in a new course of therapy on Wednesday.
I’ve had various types of therapy and counselling over the years, some have been more successful than others, and some have been a downright waste of time. This time I have actually returned to a therapist I have worked with previously; my course of treatment with him was cut off as a result of the removal of NHS funding from the service. That was around a year and a half ago now. At the time it wasn’t such a big deal, as the treatment I had received had left me in a pretty good place and I felt able to cope on my own. That didn’t last too long, and in the intervening 18 months I have seen two other therapists, one who I just didn’t gel with and the other of whom was an absolute disgrace of a therapist (after explaining how I was feeling she said to me “So how does that make you different to anyone else?”, after which I never went back).
My session on Wednesday went well. As an initial session it was mostly about finding out why I had decided to seek help. In a situation seeing a new therapist there probably would have also been a fair amount of discussing how the sessions would run and how the individual therapist worked, but as a returning patient (if that’s the right word) we didn’t have to go through all that.
Turns out I had a lot more to say than I thought. As we didn’t have to do the actual introductory stuff, I was offered the option to have a standard 50 minute session, rather than the 1 hour 20 minutes of an initial session. I easily filled the hour and 20 minutes. Issues that have built up in my mind over months started pouring out of my mouth, things I hadn’t even given much thought to before the session. When it was all out there I could see it, just why things have become so hard and why I couldn’t hold it together anymore. It was relieving, and something I don’t think I could have achieved with anyone inside my life, it needed the safety of an outsider to be able to talk about everything absolutely unhindered.
And that is one of the great values of therapy. Obviously, the therapist is trained in techniques to put you at ease, help you identify problems and their roots, as well as ways of managing your feelings and helping you work your way out of your pit as well. But having someone to talk to, with no associated baggage of a personal relationship, or expectations or prior assumptions is so liberating. If you let it be. If I could give one piece of advice to someone going into therapy, it would be; don’t hold back, there’s no need, it won’t help and it may very well hinder your recovery.
However, I would add a caveat, don’t feel obliged to stick with a therapist who you don’t feel comfortable with or who you don’t feel can help. I am lucky that I have been able to go back to a therapist who I built a good working relationship with and who I feel comfortable with, but I have been through my fair share of others who I either didn’t bond with or whose methods of working weren’t to my liking, and one or two who I thought were ridiculous excuses for therapists (The last one I saw, after I had explained how I was feeling, simply said “So how does that make you any different to anyone else?”, which was as good as saying “Get over it and get on with life like everyone else manages to”, I never went back).
I am a great believer in the power of therapy, over and above medication, although the two in conjunction are often the best bet, but if you’re only going to do one, do therapy. It’s not always easy on the NHS (I’m seeing my therapist privately £££), but it’s worth the effort, keep on at your GP if they aren’t forthcoming in offering to refer you.  Now you obviously can go down the private route if the NHS doesn’t work out for you, but it’s always worth trying the NHS first if you can, private can be expensive, worth every penny usually, but only if you have those pennies to spare.

I hope you are well,

Betty
x

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