Therapy sessions with a psychologist are increasing, going to those sessions it’s not a bad thing anymore. I had a long way to go: the psychologist of yesterday was the one where if you got there, something was wrong with you. Evolution, science and discoveries have helped us to understand that this is a normal process in the context in which we live for a more relaxed life.
And yet, when would it be good to go to a psychologist and that person to be a professional?
- if you feel constantly tired, you feel that you are not coping anymore,
- that what is happening is too much for you, sadness, helplessness;
- if you work very hard, you are constantly tense and whatever you do is not enough;
- if you find it difficult to carry out normal daily activities related to home, work, health, family and friends;
- if you have an addiction that you have been aware of alone or with the help of your loved ones (alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.);
- if you feel that you can do more and do not know how to do it (here you can choose a coach to support you)
- If you have already exhausted your family and friends and your condition has not improved, I advise you to go to a specialist.
How do you choose a psychologist?
I have heard many stories, most of which are related to some “professionals” on the market. And then you need a few lines to follow to increase your chances of finding the right specialist for you:
How do you find a psychologist?
If this is the first time you ask this problem, it is easiest to ask close people, the first ones on the list are those you know are going to or have had a period when they went to a psychologist. If there is anyone you recommend, it is worth a visit.
If you do not have such knowledge or do not want to ask such a question, the next step is online. Enter specialized pages and there you can find names to choose from. Because we are still online, you can search by name and find all kinds of information about that man and articles, if he has such activity. Watch the activity on Social Media and if you like what you see/read, contact it.
Be it a man or a woman?
This is a key question. Most of us have an almost intuitive answer when it comes to the sex of the psychologist. With origins in childhood and explanation to be found together, it is good to listen to this impulse. It will give you the comfort you will need. Don’t give yourself a scolding and choose what makes you feel comfortable. Talk to the psychologist of your choice and choose topics you are interested and you like.
What questions to ask?
You found someone and you decide to contact him/her. There are a few things that you should consider. What school has he/she finished and what specialization has? How many years of experience do you have in that field? Has he ever dealt with similar cases (here’s what you need to tell him briefly)? How long and how much a session costs (prices and durations differ, so it is normal to ask). Did she have therapy sessions to improve her personal life? This last question is again important. Someone who does therapy and has never been a personal choice to the psychologist is not a person open enough to help you.
Any training for specialization in a form of therapy involves mandatory hours of therapy. Outside those hours, did you call on the services of a specialist for any moment in your life? If so, you can proceed to the next step.
How do the sessions take place: online or face-to-face?
The online counselling service is becoming more and more popular. This way you can choose a psychologist from another city or even another country, reduce travel time and other inconveniences related to transportation.
Face-to-face meetings have the advantage of much more visible nonverbal communication, direct interaction and the comfort of something you’re already used to. The best combination works between them.
I can tell you, for example, that whoever chooses Improving and works together, has an online platform where we keep the connection between meetings and receive the resources he needs. Here I receive regular challenges to support them in building and maintaining new healthy habits.
How do you feel after the first meeting?
Do you like the man in front of you? How comfortable did you feel? Did you feel listened to? It is important that the feeling at the end of the session is one of ease, that you have found someone you can easily open. Later you will see together how things evolve.
What do we do if we go to couples therapy?
Here things get a bit complicated because the psychologist’s choice will be validated by 2 people. The selection process may be similar, but it is very important for both partners to feel comfortable with the psychologist of their choice. Also, I advise you to do a periodic evaluation, each of you, to see if and throughout the relationship of each of you with the psychologist is easy and comfortable.
Attention! If you are discussing a topic that makes you feel uncomfortable during a meeting, ask yourself the question “Why do I feel this way?”. If you conclude that he is the subject and not the man in front of you, you can continue to move on.
What should be remembered in the case of couple therapy is that the psychologist must be careful not to take part in any of the partners, so that the partners are in balance in discussions. This is quite difficult to notice, so don’t rush into making decisions. Observe how much you can detach during two to three meetings and then bring the topic up for open discussion.
Does going to the psychologist works? How do I know it’s okay?
Research says yes, therapy works. In the case of frequent states of anxiety, sadness, suffering. Statistical data confirms that after about 8 therapy sessions, 50% of clients say they feel better, are more confident in themselves and the future. The percentage increases by up to 75% satisfaction for those who are in therapy for six months or more.
Improving, changing some patterns is a long-term process, which requires constant effort. It is this constancy that gives value to the act itself. If you brush your teeth once a month, you won’t see any improvement. If you do this daily, then you have every chance of a smile that brings joy.
If you are curious about what you can gain from a psychotherapy process, read on.
You give yourself an hour a week to be about you.
Psychotherapy is about you. In a safe environment, you look closely, you share your concerns, you reflect on the important things, you seek solutions. And you do all this with the help of a professional.
You create a context in which to work on your person.
Starting a therapy process involves a commitment that you make, both to yourself and the therapist. Thus, you increase the chances of being actively involved in your development.
You get to know yourself better.
Every hour of therapy, you share your experiences. You say thoughts out loud, label emotions, describe behaviours. And you start putting things together. You become aware of aspects that you haven’t noticed before. Identify patterns. And the image of oneself becomes clearer.
You learn to accept yourself.
As you talk about the things you do, feel, think, they become more real. Gradually, you learn to integrate them, develop a more complex vision of yourself and become more reconciled with the fact that you are not perfect.
You take responsibility for change.
In therapy, you learn to give up the search for a culprit and to accept that no matter who contributed to the problems you are currently facing, it is your responsibility to change them.
You understand what is happening to you and why.
The difficulties you face may seem meaningless. With the help of the therapist, you make connections between situations, thoughts, emotions and behaviours, between past experiences and present experiences, and find explanations for your problems.
You focus your efforts in well-defined directions.
Once you determine how you want your life to be different, choose the aspects you would like to change and work with the therapist to make those changes.
Learn to be patient with yourself and others.
Change takes time. You need to take small steps in the direction you choose and be confident that the results will come. The longer and more time-consuming the process, the lower the motivation to continue. The therapist will support you in this endeavour, encourage you to try and guide you when you feel lost.
Learn how to approach problems flexibly.
You have probably tried a few ways to solve problems and they haven’t worked. At the psychologist, you learn to look at the situation from different angles, generate new solutions, combine old methods and adjust your approach, depending on the outcome.
You learn to communicate effectively.
The ability to listen, clearly communicate a message and adapt to the other’s reaction is essential to having good relationships with others. You develop this ability in several ways: through the feedback, you receive from the therapist, through discussions on the elements of effective communication, through role-plays and through the model that the therapist offers.
You learn to claim your rights without harming the other.
If you never express your needs or you did it aggressively, learn how to dose the intensity. You are encouraged to say what you think, what you feel, what you need to happen, considering the other person’s perspective. You practice this skill in the relationship with the therapist and you learn how to integrate it into your daily life.
You learn to set boundaries in relationships with others.
When other people ask for more than you are willing to offer, do things that bother you or treat you badly, you need to clearly express the limits and consequences of their violation. Test your ability to do this through role-playing games and develop your ability through the feedback you receive from the therapist.
You learn to build relationships.
Close relationships are fundamental to a happy life. But the first steps can be cumbersome. At the psychologist, you identify contexts in which you can meet new people, gradually overcome the emotional obstacles that prevent you from starting a conversation and learn to adjust how much you offer in the relationship.
You learn to repair relationships.
More important than avoiding mistakes, tensions or conflicts in relationships, is to know how to repair the situation, restore a connection with the other person. The therapist models this ability in each session: he is attentive to your reactions, encourages you to express your point of view and changes his approach according to your answer.
You learn to end relationships.
At the psychologist, you learn how to turn the ending of a relationship into a meaningful experience. Give yourself time to weigh the decision carefully, think about what you want to say and choose the right time. Then, gather your courage to talk to each other and to sit with all the difficult emotions you both feel while building meaning from your time together.
You learn to relax.
When you feel anxiety or stress, relaxation techniques help to calm your body and mind. You can use them to become more focused in the morning, to calm down when unforeseen situations occur and to log out at the end of the day.
You have the motivation to do things.
When you feel sad, discouraged or powerless, the therapist reminds you of the important things for you and encourages you to go in that direction. Together, identify the actions you need to take and find solutions to manage the items that keep you locked.
You learn to be persistent.
Progress in therapy is not linear. Your route will be ascending in some stages, there will be periods of plateau and moments of regress. The therapist helps you analyze what happened, adjust your strategy and try again. Over time, your evolution will be smoother.
You learn to give up and refocus.
The bigger the investment, the harder it is to end a relationship, a job, or another important step for you. At the psychologist, you evaluate the costs and benefits, you resign the decision to give up, you say goodbye and you look for other options.
You learn to be independent.
It can be difficult to handle yourself when you think you are not capable of doing this. The therapist supports you to do things on your own, to make decisions, to discover your skills and to develop new skills. Step by step, you will have more and more confidence that you can rely on yourself in important moments.
You learn to accept the help of others.
You think it’s best to do everything yourself, not to disturb others, to keep your freedom or to make sure everything will be done exactly as you wish. And you end up exhausting your resources. By going to the psychologist, you learn that it is okay to ask and receive help, that it is not a sign of weakness and that it does not threaten your autonomy.
Explore your fears in a safe environment.
The more you avoid thinking about the things you are afraid of, the more they gain strength. The first step is to talk about them. Thus, you come to understand how certain combinations of physiological situations, thoughts and reactions give you the feeling of fear and prevent you from doing the things that are important to you.
You learn to show courage.
The only way you can overcome your fear to overcome them. The therapist shows you how to grade exposures, helps you integrate the experience and encourages you during difficult times. This way, you learn that negative scenarios do not happen, that you can tolerate the discomfort and that you can cope.
You learn to express your emotions.
Talking about how you feel, you organize your emotional chaos. What initially seemed like a meaningless disorder, takes on a logic. Your experience becomes valid, legitimate, justified. And it becomes easier to communicate your emotions to those around you.
You learn to control your emotions.
Intense emotions can destabilize you. At the psychologist, you learn some strategies for managing them. As you practice, you will notice that they appear less rarely, are less intense and have a shorter duration. Also, you will be more confident in your ability to modulate them.
You accept that negative emotions are part of life.
By analyzing the times when you feel negative emotions, you begin to understand their role. You find that it shows you the relevant situations and that it changes depending on the context. You notice that they are always followed by other emotions and that they vary in intensity. You realize that I’m a signal, but that it doesn’t dictate your behaviour. Throughout, it will naturally come to you to accept them as part of your experience.
Learn to cultivate positive emotions.
Happiness depends more on your actions than on external factors. The therapist encourages you to create situations where you can feel positive emotions. You can spend time with people who enjoy you, you can do activities that satisfy you, you can make contexts that make you happy.
Learn to make decisions.
To make an important decision, you need to go beyond analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The next step is to understand the role of emotional factors in the weight you give to each element. After weighing each variant and choosing one of them, you assume the consequences and take the necessary actions. Then you evaluate the result and adjust accordingly.
You accept that there is no perfect choice.
When looking for the best option, you get to invest a lot of time and resources to evaluate all the variables. And you postpone making a decision. Once you become aware of this pattern, it is easier for you to accept that there is no cost course of action. That there is no decision whose consequences you can predict exactly. And that it is much more important to act.
You learn to be compassionate.
When you are harsh with yourself for something you have done, thought or felt, the situation becomes worse. Hard words, guilt and shame do not help you find a solution. At the psychologist, you learn to talk to yourself as if trying to align a dear friend. To tell you that your experience is normal. That we all make mistakes. That you are still a good and valuable person. That you can find ways to rectify the situation.
You learn to take responsibility for mistakes.
Once you give up looking for a culprit, you manage to look at mistakes effectively. Instead of blaming others, you take your share of responsibility. Instead of endlessly ruminating and criticizing, you focus on learning from experience. And the next step is to take action to solve the problem.
Learn to take the lead.
When you are unhappy with some aspects and do nothing to change them, you are stuck in a circle of frustration and helplessness. In therapy, you learn that the only way you can get out of this cycle is to act. As you do this, you discover that you have more power than you thought and that you can use it to influence your life course.
You agree that some problems do not have immediate solutions.
You try to solve all the problems as they arise. But some things take time. In these cases, it is not efficient to keep analyzing plans and scenarios that you cannot implement. It is more useful to tolerate the discomfort and refocus on other aspects.
Learn to enjoy small progress.
When you plan to make a change, it can be daunting to see how slow things are. The therapist shows you the small changes you have made and encourages you to celebrate. Notice that you are closer to your goal than you were a week ago. And to tell you you’ve done a good job.
Learn to meet your genuine needs.
As you reflect on what you are doing, it becomes clearer that your actions are trying to respond to your needs. But your approach may be a substitute and does not fulfil your real need. The therapist helps you find more ways to intervene and choose actions that suit your true needs.
You learn to respond to the needs of others.
To build lasting relationships, it is important to pay attention to what others want. This can be complicated because we often communicate our needs indirectly. In therapy, you learn how to ask questions and how to clarify, so you know what the other needs. Moreover, you learn to show them that you respect their need, even if you choose to act differently than they would like.
Learn to prioritize the important things.
Once you identify the things that are essential to you, you must not let life intervene. It’s up to you to do what matters every day. The therapist encourages you to commit yourself, to plan your actions, to remove distractions and to say no to the proposals that depart from your direction.
You learn to build meaning.
The attempt to create a meaningful life is one of the defining elements of human existence. You can easily fall into the trap of being carried away by circumstances and avoiding taking responsibility for what you do. It takes courage to define your values and choose your path. But once you take a direction and channel your efforts to be congruent with it, your activities gain new meanings and you feel more fulfilled.
You learn to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity.
Once you accept that uncertainty and ambiguity are inevitable, it will be easier for you to navigate through life. No matter how you seek the right answers, safe ways towards your goal, you cannot accurately anticipate the future. Therefore, it is useful to have an anchor, a stable point, that will allow you to look around without feeling lost. This can still be an idea, personal value or simply the process of observing your emotional response.
You learn to adapt to change.
Life requires continuous change. Adapting to change means learning to live in new circumstances. Explore the new territory – outside and inside, understand what is happening to you and discover the actions that bring you the desired results. As you get involved in this process repeatedly, you discover that it can be an opportunity for personal growth.
You learn to take care of the body, to take care of the mind.
The functioning of the mind is closely related to the functioning of the body. Therefore, it is difficult to have a good emotional disposition and to think clearly if you neglect sleep, nutrition and sports. In therapy, you identify and test small changes that you can integrate into your routine, so that you create better habits for your physical and mental health.
Change the way you respond in difficult situations.
Throughout your life, you have developed strategies to deal with adversities, which have protected you and helped you to move forward. But the same methods can sabotage you. When the context is different, using old tactics can be very costly. The therapist guides you to identify situations that trigger inefficient defence methods, analyze the costs and benefits they have, and test other methods that bring you closer to your goals.
You learn to deal with a loss.
A loss of any kind creates a void. In this situation, difficult emotions appear, sometimes contradictory. Processing loss means clarifying your feelings, reflecting on the meaning that a person has had in your life, and finding ways to move forward.
You mobilize yourself to do the difficult things.
You know what is important to you, you know what you need to do to get there, but something prevents you from acting. Often, you need to take a risk and go against the current, to do the opposite of your usual reaction. And this is scary. The therapist points out the discrepancy between how you live your life and your values and encourages you to take a step to move in the direction you choose.
Make peace with the past.
If you have resentments that consume you, if you think of upsetting events, which you cannot integrate, or if you repeat the same patterns and do not understand why all these are signs that you have not detached from the past. Although there is no prescription to go through this process, it is important to reflect on the impact that events have had on you, to observe the emotions that arise, to accept that you cannot change what happened and learn to look at the situation in a different light.
You learn to live in the present.
When you become absorbed in your inner discourse, you disengage from the present moment and lose the good parts of life. You can’t enjoy things you don’t notice. To connect with what is happening now, it is sufficient to turn your attention to the outside and look at what is happening with an attitude of curiosity, as if you were observing things for the first time. In this way, you will discover that familiar places and simple activities can give you a rich experience.
You learn to look at the future with realistic optimism.
When you expect only negative things to happen, you always get alert and live your life defensively. It becomes almost impossible to enjoy the good things that are happening to you and to work on building a better future. To have an optimistic and realistic vision, it is important to improve your ability to anticipate events, using previous experiences. Compare your prediction with what happened and based on that, adjust your future predictions. Moreover, it is essential to set your bold goals, look for ways to reach them, and trust that you will succeed in achieving them.
Find out what your strengths are.
Once you become aware of your resources, you can capitalize on them to overcome difficult situations and create growth contexts. In therapy, you reflect on areas of life that go well, identify strategies you use to overcome obstacles in those areas and think about how you can apply similar methods to solve problems in other areas. Besides, you learn how to use strengths as a foundation to develop other attributes you want.
You learn to trust your strengths.
It is important to trust that you can handle difficult situations, as this motivates you to take calculated risks and strive to do a little more than you did before, and so you develop. At the psychologist, you learn to observe the small progress and continue in the direction of your goals, a process that reinforces your idea that you can achieve the things you propose.
You cultivate your resilience.
The ability to cope with adversity is formed when you face adverse circumstances. By going to therapy, you come to view these events as opportunities to practice the strategies you have acquired, to combine different ways of responding. Thus, discover what works in various contexts and become more resilient.
You agree that effort is needed to maintain progress.
The work does not end with the completion of therapy. You must continue to use the strategies you have learned so that you do not revert to the old patterns. Then, as the circumstances of your life change, you need to reflect on what is happening, pay attention to your reaction and choose to respond effectively. By constantly going through this process, it becomes easier to maintain it.