A person usually decides to see a therapist because they need help navigating or coping with certain aspects of their lives, but they may not have a clear understanding of what that help will entail. So, what is it that you can expect to get from therapy?
By Dr Mohamed Zaki • 5th March 2020
Photo by Eduardo Dutra
Dr Mohamed Zaki
Head of Research
If you’ve just decided to start therapy or are still considering whether or not it’s the right move for you, you might be wondering what it is exactly that it can achieve. You would be right to question and explore what therapy can bring to your life. In fact, having a clear understanding of what it is that you hope to achieve through therapy is an important aspect of a positive experience. Equally as important is having a realistic understanding of what it can and will do versus what it cannot and will not do.
When someone chooses to see a therapist it is usually because they need help navigating or coping with certain aspects of their lives. That said, they may not have a clear understanding of what that help will entail. So, what is it that you can expect to get from therapy?
The ultimate goal of therapy is to enhance your mental health but it’s good to remember that it’s not always a linear process.
First and foremost, therapy is a great place to gain a better understanding of yourself and an increased awareness of how you feel, respond to the world around you and manage and cope with elements of your life that may be troubling you. These insights and shifts of perspective, while not ends in and of themselves, can be truly helpful. We can all be swept up in patterns of thought and behaviour without taking a step back to reflect on the roles they play in our mental and emotional wellbeing. So think of therapy as that much-needed step back. It can also uncover some patterns that we unknowingly partake in and that have a tremendous impact on our overall sense of contentment.
Therapy will also arm you with tools that can help you deal with issues that may be upsetting or troubling you. People sometimes wrongly assume that therapists can and/or will ‘fix’ specific problems or issues. The reality isn’t quite so simple. What a therapist will try to do is work with you to find new ways of responding to stressors or upsets and tackling long-standing issues, fears and concerns; ones that are conducive to a more comfortable state of emotional and mental wellbeing. Just as an example, if you’re going to see a therapist for your anxiety, be it mild, moderate or severe, they cannot completely eliminate your stress or anxiety altogether but will provide you with evidence-based tools and methods to help you manage your stress levels. Therapists have a trove of possible tools but those may not necessarily work for everyone in the exactly the same way so think of therapy as a collaborative exercise to find the right tools that work best for you.
The ultimate goal of therapy is to enhance your mental health but it’s good to remember that it’s not always a linear process. You will hopefully see an improvement in your mood and your ability to deal with difficult aspects of your life but you may still find yourself struggling on some occasions or feel that you’re not making as much progress as you’d like. This is all perfectly normal. The important thing is to openly communicate those feelings to your therapist. If this is all still a bit too overwhelming or unclear, fret not, your therapist will guide you through a more detailed and specific discussion of what you hope to achieve and will be able to shed light on how you can get to where you’d like to be mentally and emotionally.