What happened when I went to therapy

Initially I went to my therapist to lose weight. Someone I knew loosely had just completed training on hypnotherapy to do with both addictions to food and smoking. At the time I was a size 20 and smoking 20 cigarettes a day. This was about 10 years ago.

Well, I've lost the weight and no longer smoke but we never got round to the hypnotherapy. So what have I been doing for the last 10 years?

My addictions were symptoms not causes. I was deeply unhappy and struggling to cope. I "forgot" to mention during the assessment my binge drinking, that I self harmed, that I was often in fantasy land rather then trying to fix my reality, that my relationships were going nowhere and that I was often feeling suicidal. So giving me hypnotherapy at the beginning really wouldn't have done much for me. Luckily I had a therapist who could see through all my rubbish and rationalising as by then I was extremely good at that.

You see, she wasn't my first therapist. She was my fourth. My first referral was from the GP, and I had a terrible experience with them. The first one was ok, then suddenly I wasn't seeing her anymore but a new woman who was horrendous and at one point while I was crying, she laughed! Funnily enough I still saw her afterwards because I didn't want to be rude!

The third was lovely and I saw her at the beginning of my training to become a therapist. She was also a trainee and I was making progress in being more assertive. I knew things had changed because all of a sudden when I said no, everyone thought I was selfish! But it was overwhelming. I would burst out crying at work, on my way to work, anywhere really. I was advised to try something new. 

So I tried my current therapist. They say the devil knows their own, and she saw right though me! She was gentle as we unpacked more and more of my stuff. You see, I couldn't lose my coping mechanisms until I:

A. Had something healthy to replace it with
B. Accepted myself warts and all, including why I developed the maladaptive patterns in the first place.

I had lost weight before but mainly through starvation (this was another thing I hadn't mentioned) so I knew I could do it but, but of course the weight comes back and I felt even worse than before!

My therapist taught me how to look at myself in the mirror after a shower and not feel disgusted or ashamed. Shame never helped me in life, ever! She also taught me that it's ok to not be perfect, or an angel or the strong one everyone expects you to be. In time I learned how let go of toxic people in my life - that being myself is enough. The weight then just dropped off.

So I guess the message is, when going into therapy you will have a clear idea of what you want to achieve which is absolutely fine, and sometimes along the journey you don't know what will come out. But if you're willing and your therapist is capable then the exploration can be amazing. 

As for the cigarettes? I now use a vape!

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Written by Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP, Couple’s Counsellor

I am Marilyn McKenzie and I am a qualified Psychotherapist who has worked with Addiction, Couples, DV, Young Offending, Grief and Bereavement as well as Anxiety and Depression.

I am Integrative in my approach but often work Systemically. I have a private practise and work with Relate.… Read more

Written by Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP, Couple’s Counsellor

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