I started practicing with a psychotherapist, and I am still continuing my studies. I believe that the start of classes is one of the main events of the last year.
I noticed my friends’ visits to a therapist until September, but I was skeptical. There are still enough skeptics around me now. So I decided to tell briefly why I started, what the classes looked like and what to expect from them. I’m telling it from my own experience and through the articles I’ve read.
I don’t need a therapist, I’m fine.
Maybe there are people in the world who are fine, but I haven’t met anyone like that. Usually everyone around me has minor problems and behavioral issues that poison life.
One of my acquaintances always reads his girlfriend’s correspondence on her phone – although he realizes he’s not behaving properly. Another friend is afraid to talk to her parents because they laugh at her all the time. Someone is afraid of uncertainty at a new job, someone doesn’t know what they want in life.
It’s not about voices in the head and suicidal thoughts, but about disorders, resentments, self-doubt and relationship problems. The therapist helps to understand this.
I don’t need to see a therapist, I’m a grown man and I can handle myself.
That’s what I thought to myself, too. I am a person with a high ability for reflection, I can think and analyze anything, I like to do this watch. But over time I noticed that it didn’t work.
Reflexion is not a solution to a problem, but a self-confidence that you have done everything right. The voice in my head is constantly giving in, calming, hesitating between “Well, what could be done here” and “You’re a good girl, darken your tears”. After thinking like that, I always felt a little relieved, but the problems didn’t go away. It was as if at war with myself they had declared a daily truce.
Communication with a therapist is different. He is not trying to be a cutie: he asks questions, catches on contradictions. The therapist can say: “Look, you said something else half an hour ago. So where is the truth?”, or “It’s understandable. And what do you want in this situation? He has no task to talk and calm down, he helps to understand himself.
At the level of a therapist, a person can’t understand himself like that – he has some kind of protective mechanisms that work, and from there he just throws them away. And with the therapist nothing, we work further.
I’m talking to my friends about all the problems
Friends, relatives, colleagues do not usually help with problems:
- If you feel bad, they will try to comfort you by saying anything to calm you down.
- They are not responsible for their advice. Girlfriend will say: “He’s a scoundrel, leave him immediately, even if the problem in the relationship was actually in a different way, and the family could be saved.
- Do not always keep a secret, can spread your problems: by accident or on purpose. In addition, it will not be possible to discuss with the parents of trouble, which because of them and arose.
Sometimes the truth is lucky for people with friends – they don’t give empty advice, they can listen. But usually friendly therapy is more like extinguishing a fire: you take a couple of bottles of wine and share stories, and each one of you tries not to bore each other too much.
The therapist works differently:
- If you need to comfort, he or she will comfort you. But his task is to help you understand yourself: to understand the problem and find a way to solve it. This is not a one-hour sit-down with wine, but many months of work on yourself. Sometimes it is unpleasant.
- The therapist does not give advice, does not say what to do. He asks questions, listens, talks about what he has heard. This is a different level of communication, usually unattainable with friends, because it is often difficult, time-consuming, exhausting.
- The therapist keeps the secret of communicating with clients. He or she will not read you on social media or bite the people you are talking about, they remain characters for the therapist. However, if you confess to murder, the therapist will have to call the police. In all other cases, classes are strictly confidential.
Friends say the therapist is bullshit. Am I crazy?
If you have a severe mental illness, you don’t have to go to a psychotherapist, you have to go to a psychiatrist to lie in the hospital and be treated with pills. You can get to this state if you don’t deal with stress.
You can also remember people around you who have severe psychological problems that prevent them from living. Someone suffers from family problems and starts drinking. Someone bears the rough habits of their parents on their children.
We do not yet have a culture of psychotherapy, for most people it is such nauseous conversations in leather chairs from Hollywood movies or TV series.
It seems that people in the west are sour and furious, and we are strong and cool to decide everything ourselves. But in fact, people suffer from problems and worries, get sick more often, live less, and lose their temper with their loved ones. Nobody told them that it is not normal to live differently.
It’s strange just to talk to a man and pay him money for it.
It’s not strange to go to the movies and pay money for watching the heroes of the movie, although you can watch people on the street for free.
A therapist is also a doctor. He has studied for years, undergone training and gained experience. You can think that he is a psychic surgeon: he dissects everything carefully there. Although a psychotherapist is more likely to give you surgical instruments and say: “So, let’s think about what we will do with it.
Personally, I’m so useful and interesting to practice that I stopped worrying about money pretty quickly.
How do these classes go anyway?
A psychotherapist is usually trained in person, less often by Skype. I do Skype for an hour, once a week.
A lesson is a dialogue. I feel like I’m talking 60% of the time, and another 40% is when a therapist and I discuss what we’re saying in the conversation.
At the beginning of the session, I tell you how I feel about what happened to me this week and how it affected me. The therapist clarifies my feelings. It may seem simple, but it’s actually pretty hard and difficult. Communicating with a therapist in a class is like a serious psychological job. Sometimes you have to remember dreams, childhood experiences, some frank events in life.
Sometimes the therapist plays “games”. For example, she asks to move to another chair and turn into another person, and then answer questions on his behalf, or helps to meditate on feelings.
At the end of the session, we discuss how it went, how I feel. In general, the questions “What do you feel?” or “What do you want? Sometimes he gives you homework after class, like keeping a specific diary.
Classes are always private, no one should be home during them. I prefer not to tell my loved ones about them.
What, am I gonna have to do this my whole life?
Usually they come to a therapist with specific problems. They really work on them for a long time: months, years. Sometimes there are very difficult cases, with which they can work for ten years or longer. But therapy is always the end.
When you feel like you’ve done well, it’s over and your classes are over. The therapist does not try to be your friend for the rest of your life and put you on the phone. You are a patient to him and he will cure and release him.
Some of you work with a therapist to stop the problem, and then you keep in touch once a month or two. Others do this from time to time.
You can stop your classes anytime, anytime. In this case, the therapist asks for another session, the final one – which will give recommendations.
Does it help?
It helps me. In the course of six months, I have become much more aware of myself, and through qualitative conversation I have revealed such features of my personality, which I had never known before.
Also, the therapist helped me to relieve the painful and abrupt feelings. For example, when my cat got sick and I was very upset, an unplanned activity helped me stabilize – and it became much easier.
However, I know people who didn’t like or didn’t like the therapy. Some people are afraid to open up, others do not like the format.
And how do you find this therapist?
First of all, it is useful to ask your friends if they know the therapists exactly or have studied. However, there is a subtlety here: a good specialist will not work simultaneously with his or her acquaintances in order to maintain confidentiality and not to confuse a compass of impartiality.
My friend and I accidentally found out that we were working with the same therapist, and then we decided what to do with the specialist. If it turned out that we somehow intersected with a friend in our feelings and memories, the therapist would refuse to work with one of us.
I can also recommend this list. I also recommend “Meta” – the service of selecting psychotherapists.
On the advice of experienced friends, I first asked several specialists for one session each, and then I chose the one I would work with. It seems to be a good way to find my therapist.