Why go to therapy?
I finished my training in 2013 and I have been in private practice since 2014. During my training years I was already seeing clients on a weekly basis as a trainee. All in all, I have been listening and talking to clients for six years. While my experience may not be vast such as my supervisor who has been a psychotherapist for a few decades, I am starting to form an idea of what brings clients to therapy.
I will start by the type of enquiry I receive. The great majority of enquiries come to me via emails. Some are urgent, two to three lines at the most and highlighting one problem such as "my partner just left me", "I’m finding difficult to go to work", "I’m feeling very anxious", and they often book an appointment for the same week. Others may come to therapy because of an ongoing issue that has lasted for a few months and sometimes years and now they feel stuck. Rarely do I get emails about clients wanting to find out more about themselves with no pressing issue, but they do exist. Once in a while I get a very long email which feels the client is offloading, and it is common for those individuals not to book a session. I also get phone calls or emails asking me to call, these are not frequent and most of the time they go ahead and book a session. There seems to be a connection between urgency need and taking action to see a therapist.
In my observation, clients that have hit rock bottom are the ones that put more effort into, what I will call, healing. The way I use the word healing is in the same way a doctor can offer healing, but in this case it would be on an emotional and psychological level. In the TED Talk by Guy Winch “how to practice emotional fist aid” he speaks about our ability to quickly know how to protect a physical wound from infection with a plaster and how we lack on responding on the same manner about our psychological wounds.
I am constantly reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, and reflecting on different topics related to self-development that can help me and my clients. I learn a lot from my clients by the way, I see it as a two-way street the relationship client-therapist. One of the topics that interests me is why we wait for things to get worse in order to look for help. What I have concluded is that we have different tolerance levels for pain and when the threshold has been reached, we are ready to change. The clients that have an ongoing issue that is not urgent but still needs addressing have also reached a limit to tolerate their situation but because they are used to it, they may take a little longer to identify what the problems are and how they would like to change. This is not a judgment on who can resolve things quicker or who takes longer, it is an observation why we do things the way we do. And in talking of time, I am of the view that we all have unique internal timings for self-development and that needs to be respected.
Whether you feel the urgent need to speak to someone or you are still considering it, taking care of your emotional and psychological wellbeing it is as important as your physical health.
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