There is a lot of stigma around mental health and people suffering from any kind of mental health issue, and such issues are often spoken about in hushed tones. This is because of the lack of awareness and sensitivity about the subject in India. But busting all misconceptions, mental health and therapy is a space that allows the individual to learn more about themselves, understand their behaviourism and cope with past or present trauma. It provides a healthy space to express themselves and find solutions. Although it seems simple, finding the proper therapist that matches your needs is difficult! And it is also essential to know what therapy is and how it works, before walking into an appointment.
To learn more, TC46 connected with Counselling Psychologist Hirak Patel from Fortis Hospital, Mulund. Here, she states 9 points to check out before booking an appointment with a therapist.
1. Therapy helps in relieving emotional distress
Therapy is a process that helps an individual to gain insight into self, to understand one’s pattern of behavior and connect to experiences. It is about learning ways to be more effective, develop skills towards one’s approach to life’s concerns and challenges, target problem areas and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Therapy helps in relieving emotional distress and problems related to mental health. There are different types of therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Behavior Modification, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), art therapy and other various forms of therapy. A session begins with the therapist introducing oneself and discussing confidentiality, followed by the client sharing their concerns. While the client shares their concerns, the therapist creates an environment that is safe and comfortable for the client where rapport is well established. The therapist actively listens to the clients concerns, and has an empathetic approach towards the client. Then depending on the concern shared, short term or long-term goals are formed by both the therapist and the client. At the end of the session, what has been discussed in the session is summarized and what will be done in the next session is discussed. At the end, if any activity or task needs to be done by the client, it also gets discussed.
2. Research before booking the appointment
One can seek therapy, either online or offline. While choosing a professional from whom one is seeking support, one needs to check the area of expertise of the professional, and the domains that the professional works on. One needs to research where the professional practices, the availability, and whether the professional deals with the sort of concerns the patient is facing.
3. Confidentiality and communication between the therapist and individual is a important
One has many questions when they see a therapist, so it is necessary and suggestable that any question regarding therapy and the treatment is taken up, the questions related to the therapist can be asked and discussed. An individual needs to have an understanding of how the therapy works, what is the reason behind using it and other doubts that can be dealt with. Maintaining confidentiality is the first thing that is informed to the client – confidentiality regarding both the person and the concern that the person shares with the therapist. Maintaining confidentiality helps the client develop trust in the therapy session and the therapist, the client feels comfortable to share all their concern. It is informed at the beginning of the session that whatever the person says is confidential, and will be discussed with another person with the explicit permission of the client. However, there are certain circumstances where it can be broken for instances like where the person is a threat to self or anyone else, any resort to any sort of abuse.
4. Therapy is an investment which helps you pay attention to your mental health
As one takes care of their physical health, one also needs to pay equal attention and give importance to their mental health. Seeking therapy helps the individual to gain self-insight, personal growth, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and apply several strategies which are developed through therapy. So yes, investing in therapy is worth it. Therapy helps one deal with several issues like stress, anxiety, relationship concerns and various other problems, it also helps develop skills and healthy coping mechanisms.
5. Each therapist has a different approach, finding your match would take time
Every therapist has a different approach to working however if you feel that you are comfortable with the therapist, can open up, feel that you are not being judged, see that therapy is working and you are able to apply the strategies or skills into your life – these are some signs that show you have found a right therapist. When you feel you feel that there is some gap in understanding things, there is no growth or that the therapy is not working, you cannot open up easily and share concerns, it does not feel safe and comfortable, then one can always change the therapist.
6. Therapy must be accepted in society as it is a way to work towards our mental health
Every one of us goes through times where we face challenges and difficulties, we face certain emotional concerns, and we go to our friends and family to share our problems. However, there are times when it becomes difficult to share with either of them, or when it feels that it is becoming very difficult, one can reach out for professional help. This does not mean that something is wrong, or the person is not capable enough or weak. There are several things that can be worked on through therapy like stress, anxiety, relationship concerns, building on self- confidence, forming goals and various other concerns. The stigma that if an individual is visiting a therapist that means that something is wrong, needs to change. Acceptance towards mental health related concerns need to be worked upon. If an individual has him/ herself taken therapy, they can let other people around who go through challenges, know about it, and make them aware about the procedure and benefits of seeking therapy.
7. Therapy is a continuous and consistent process
A therapy session usually lasts for 45-60 min. A therapy session does not mean that a person goes once, and everything will be fine. It is a continuous and consistent process which is carried upon, it does gradually stop and the frequency of sessions decreases when the person feels that they have been able to deal in a better way than before, implement skills and strategies that are learned from the sessions and and goals formulated are being worked upon. Thus depending on the individual how he/ she responds to the procedure, and all the concerns discussed and worked upon, the therapy sessions are planned.
8. Therapy helps you gain insight and develop healthy coping mechanisms
A therapy session helps an individual to gain self-insight, develop coping mechanisms, create an understanding that you are not the only one going through and facing difficulties. It shows us that it is okay to feel in certain ways at times, having an alternate perspective towards situations, helps us develop skills and strategies for facing challenges and learn about self-values. It helps develop insight into the concern, in all this the person needs to be actively involved in the therapy process. You can expect an environment that is safe and confidential for you to share your concern, and without being afraid that you would be judged by the therapist.
9. Therapy does not provide instant solutions
One need not assume that when a person goes to a professional, an instant solution is provided. Therapy requires time and it is consistent. Also, one should not believe that once they visit a professional their work is done and now, they need not do anything further. Therapy is self-work, it requires the individual to actively participate in the process by doing certain tasks and activities, and try to apply the strategies that are developed in the therapy session.