Therapy is a Lot of Work
Everyone says to seek therapy or “call your therapist” but what happens after that? I am in the medical insurance field so I am going to skip that subject unless requested to do one. I can tackle that topic in another post.
When I ask what happens after you find a therapist, I mean, are you going to put in the work? There are many different types of therapy and sometimes you have to go to a psychiatrist and a psychologist (licensed therapist or other credentialed therapists) to work on the whole problem.
In my case I have a psychiatrist (I went to the psychiatrist first to see if I actually had a mental disorder) and then I was referred to a LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker) or a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). There are specialists such as Family and Marriage Counselors or others that work with specific demographics such as children or people in the LGBTQIA+ community. The difference is that the psychiatrist can diagnose and treat mental illnesses and the therapist works with you on what the psychiatrist diagnosed you with (if there actually is a diagnosis or they’re treating the person and NOT the diagnosis as my psychiatrist always says).
My psychiatrist visits started out as 30-minute visits so that they could find out what was up, get you situated and stable on the meds, and observe how well the treatment was working. My psychiatrist visits are now about 5-15 minutes. They just see how the medication is (or is not) working and you can see them a few times weekly to 1-3 months out once you are stable. Therapy visits are usually longer, more frequent in the beginning, and less as you learn how to deal with whatever brought you to them.
Therapy is Like a Marriage
Sure, you got a therapist, but what are you going to do with them? The first thing you need is communication and trust. If you don’t have those two things, you are already destined for failure just as in marriage.
You have to be willing to share your story TRUTHFULLY. There are people out here that literally lie to therapists to portray themselves as a victim. The therapist can only really go by what they are being told. In some cases of people with personality disorders, therapists will soon figure out what is true and what is not. This, however, doesn’t help the patient to lie to the person that is trying to help them.
You have to work WITH your professional if you want to reach a goal of better mental health. Don’t waste their time as there is a shortage of therapists out here and someone that really wants help could be utilizing their time.
Longevity of Treatment
Just because you had to go to a professional doesn’t mean it’s forever. I feel that this is a fear of many. In my case, I will have to see my professionals until they retire at the least. I have bipolar disorder and sometimes I backslide. Sometimes something happens where I need immediate attention or I become violent.
As stated before, I started out with my therapist and psychiatrist going once a week but I titrated down the better I got. COVID happened and I backslid which put me back to biweekly instead of every month for my therapist and from monthly instead of every three months for my other professionals. I have three professionals. I see one monthly and the other biweekly. The psychiatrist just monitors my medication and I have been put on a new treatment which will be monitored every two months to make sure that this new regimen works. It sounds like a lot but it really isn’t especially when you know how far I have come as a person.
The better you get, the less you have to go.
My First Visit
I saw my therapist and psychiatrist after blacking out and stabbing a counter in anger at my father who was going to be my next target. I stayed in the psych ward for 5 days. This took place about 13 years ago. I got there, still had my cast on my and from cutting my tendons, and they asked me why I was there so I told them. For me, I was at my lowest and I needed to talk to someone that wouldn’t judge me. My therapist and psychiatrist are cool. Talking to my therapist is like talking to a friend and my psychiatrist is an older, Jewish man and I feel just fine talking to him. He has a PhD. My therapist is a LICSW.
They know all my dirt. ALL of my dirt. When I was out here being a hypersexual manic person, they knew. I gave my therapist a LIST of all the men I was dealing with as they had nicknames. She still has it in her file and we laugh about it. I have been celibate for SEVEN years now. Tell me that therapy doesn’t work. I have been through a lot with my jobs and family members, and they have been there to listen. It helps that I study psychology and know how to think outside of myself so I really go to them to verify that my conclusion is correct. This is not saying that they are to agree with me, because they don’t. But we look at situations from all sides. I usually can tell when I’m wrong and we discuss why I am wrong OR why I actually am right when I think I am wrong.
There are many people in this world that have access to mental health professionals but don’t want to revisit the trauma that caused them to need one. My dad is one of those people and there are many Vets that have that same concern.
If something happened to you many years that is impacting your everyday life now, you need to go and revisit that painful trauma to learn the triggers and how to cope with said triggers. That’s how you change the impact that the trauma has on you. I know this is easier said than done but it is a necessary evil. Holding trauma in, drinking, smoking, sexing, abusing it away will not get rid of the actual trauma that is causing it. Getting to the root of the current behavior requires revisiting painful things.
In The End …
Making the decision to see a therapist is great but it is a waste if you’re not ready to put in the work to get better. It’s like physical therapy. You go often and you keep working on the source of the pain until you don’t have to go as often or at all because you learn to do the work to get rid of the pain. Work with your therapist. They are not mind readers so please don’t expect them to be that. Also, remember that HIPAA is a thing and they cannot disclose your information unless you are a danger to yourself or others among a SHORT list of other conditions.
3 thoughts on “You Called a Therapist …Now What?”
I nodded along to sooo much of what you’ve written. It’s so true that being truthful in therapy/counselling sessions is the key to any REAL improvement, even if you have to admit faults/struggles…it’s better to just be up front and honest. Also a great point about consistency in visits. I don’t think 1 session is enough to solve the traumas that have us making psych appointments in the first place. I truly believe it takes months of work – YEARS for me and we’re only starting to figure out what caused my anxiety/depression/PTSD – after years of work.
Sending you big hugs. I’m so glad you posted this blog xx
Thank you so much for reading and commenting. In all, I have been in therapy for 23 years now and I need it. I might not go as much as I did when I started out, but it definitely is a part of my life at this point.