When I first started my psychiatric journey, I had a lot of misconceptions surrounding talk therapy. A webpage from Behavioral Tech, A Linehan Institute Training Company, (which I will also link in the Books and Resources tab on this website) defines DBT Therapy as, “Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP. It emphasizes individual psychotherapy and group skills training classes to help people learn and use new skills and strategies to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT skills include skills for mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness… The goal of DBT is to help clients build a life that they experience as worth living. In DBT, the client and the therapist work together to set goals that are meaningful to the client. Often this means they work on ways to decrease harmful behaviors and replace them with effective, life-enhancing behaviors.”
Most of the talk therapy experiences I have had have been with DBT Therapy and I have found it extremely helpful. Sometimes the act alone of opening up and being vulnerable with someone is cathartic in and of itself. If you’re beginning your therapy journey, you’ve been getting psychological therapy for some time or you’re just curious about what it entails. Hopefully, this short article will explain somethings and alleviate some of the anxiety you may be feeling about your therapist appointment.
Number One: Therapists and psychiatrists are different. I mentioned previously in a video on my YouTube channel, psychiatrists are medical doctors who prescribe medications while therapists hold higher education degrees in conjunction with some form of licensure that enables them to provide psychotherapeutic services. Both psychiatrists and therapists work in conjunction with each other to provide you with treatment for your symptoms and your illnesses.
Number Two: This is a big one. It is extremely important that when you seek therapy that you find someone you’re able to be honest, open and comfortable with. If you start feeling judged (believe me it has happened) then it is imperative that you seek out a different therapist to get the best benefits from therapeutic treatment. Therapists and psychiatrists are not one-size-fits-all. They are human too. If you feel uncomfortable and even angry with your therapist, I highly encourage you to switch to a different one. The right therapist makes all the difference. You will get out of therapy what you put into it.
Number Three: When I’ve seen a therapist in the past, particularly my first experiences, I was expecting them to tell me what to do. I was expecting step by step instructions to fix myself. It’s not like that. In my experiences, they will ask questions to help facilitate the conversation and help you to process your experiences and mentality. Again, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. They do provide recommendations and resources based on what they believe will benefit you the most. For example, the best therapist I’ve ever had recommended using an app called Breathe that has guided meditations that focus on mindfulness. There is a function on there that allows you to track your progress over time that I found was helpful as well. It’s an easy app to use, and you can follow the guided meditations as long (or short) as you feel you need that day. She also recommended lifestyle changes such as creating a routine, finding an exercise I enjoyed that will help me decompress, she really advocated for practicing mindfulness during meals and other times to help me stay present in the moment and to cope with my anxiety. I would also suggest these things to other people as it has been truly helpful for me. To conclude my point, therapists don’t tell you what to do. They help you to dissect the deeper emotions, mentalities, illnesses, and insecurities and recommend coping skills, resources, activities and/or products that will help you to better your life.
Number Four: You are not going to have a breakthrough every session. It’s not magic lol. They do happen. I’ve experienced a few of these moments. It’s an incredible, relieving, eye-opening experience. I liken it to an “A-ha” moment. For that to happen it takes time. You’re trying to cope with traumatic experiences, repressed emotions, coping with grief, coping with your illnesses etc., etc., you can’t have a conversation once with a virtual stranger and get that lightbulb. So, be patient with yourself and the process. Again, you will get out of therapy what you put into it.
I hope this article was helpful for you in some way. I’m interested to know your experience and my inbox is always open if you have, questions, comments or concerns and aren’t comfortable leaving them in the comments below.
Thank you for the support!
Love and Light- Sunshine