What To Tell Your Therapist

Photo by Meraki Creative Co on Unsplash

Photo by Meraki Creative Co on Unsplash

“How do I tell him/her?”

If you have ever been to therapy before, there is a possibility that the question above popped into your head at some point. If you have never been to therapy before, but are considering it or have been thinking about it, this blog post will explain the importance of addressing difficult conversations with your therapist or future therapist.

Handling expectations and finances

Just like many other things, therapy is an investment of time and money. Many people erroneously think that that their lifelong struggles can be over in just two therapy sessions. This is just not realistic for several reasons. The first one is that your therapist doesn’t know you. Maybe you talked to him or her on the phone before your first session, but he or she will have to continue to assess many variables (especially in the first few sessions) in order to get to know you. 

The second reason is that you have probably been engaging in some sort of pattern or behavior for quite some time (think dynamic with your partner for instance). Maybe you both decide to seek couples therapy because you have felt disconnected for a while or have been fighting intensely for months. One or two sessions will probably not change the way you have been relating to each other these past months. Therapy is a process and for that reason, you need to feel comfortable with whatever fee you and your therapist agreed on. Some therapists will work with you based on a fee that you can afford, while other therapists have a set fee, so it will be up to you whether or not you want to work with that therapist. Nevertheless, it is very important that you speak up if the fee is inconvenient for you. Therapists will either work with you or talk about other options (e.g. referrals).

“My therapist did not understand what I was trying to say.”

Do NOT stay quiet about this. If you feel like your therapist did not get you, let him or her know. As therapists, we are trying to figure out what is going on in your life. The reality is that we can be spot on, but we could also get it wrong. It is extremely important that you let us know if that is the case, so that we have a clearer picture of what your experience is like. You can simply say something like: “I don’t think that is what I meant, what I meant is….” or “Actually no, it is more like this…” Please correct us! I cannot emphasize this enough. Don’t think that you will hurt our feelings or disrespect us by correcting us.

“My therapist said something that triggered me.”

No therapist is a divine, perfect, human being. This could happen, either early in therapy or maybe a few months later. If something that your therapist said triggered you and made you feel uncomfortable, sad, frustrated, annoyed, disappointed—whatever it is—tell him/her. If you really like and trust your therapist, explaining what happened inside of you as he/she said X, can be very powerful. I encourage you to try it before dropping therapy and leaving. It is normal that close relationships experience some sort of rupture, but repair can be possible and practicing it can turn out to be good experience. Ruptures are opportunities to strengthen a relationship. Also, examining what triggered you is part of the therapeutic process, and there is a lot that both the therapist and client can learn from that.

“I am ready to finish therapy, but I don’t know how to say it.”

Sometimes, your therapist might be the one bringing up the idea of termination; other times you might be the one thinking about it. If you had already made a decision or are contemplating it, tell your therapist. Your decision could be based on finances or on simply feeling like you are ready to move forward on your own. Whatever the reason is, it is always a good idea for both you and your therapist to be on the same page, and to have at least one “termination” session. Usually, this is where you both can talk about what you learned from the process, form each other, what shifted or changed, and things to keep in mind for the future.

Trust your gut, and if you ever want to say something but are too shy or afraid to say it, take a deep breath and try to express it. Therapists will not criticize you for opening up about your internal experience.

To schedule an appointment with Stephanie Paez, LMFT-Associate, contact stephanie@thepracticeatx.com or call (512) 910-4052.

The Practice ATX

512-861-4131

The Power of Adaptability

Photo by  Rachel  on  Unsplash

Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

Overcoming the Unknown

Some people make it look easy, while others struggle when faced with the possibility of entering into the “unknown”.  Whether it be a new job, relationship, or the little day-to-day speed bumps, adaptability is a key player in handling new situations without feeling stressed and overwhelmed. 

Learning how to become more adaptable can help us become more resilient and confident when facing change or challenging situations.  But first, we must have a thorough understanding of what adaptability is: Adaptability can best be explained as a person’s ability (which can be made up of their disposition, motivation, and their willingness) to adjust or change to accommodate a different social situation, a change in surroundings, or a new endeavor.  In today’s fast-moving and changing world, this is an important component of good mental health.

The Inner Strength of Adaptability

Think of adaptability as an inner strength that can help prevent you from experiencing negative emotions like fear, worry, or even hopelessness, when dealing with change.  So how do we do that?

First of all, studies show that the highly adaptable person has close relationships, meaningful interactions, and fulfilling activities that they engage in.  So, increasing your social circle (or establishing a tribe) is one way. People that have this support network are better equipped to handle change.

Cultivating Adaptability

In addition, the following is helpful when faced with change or ambiguity: 

  • Simply identify and acknowledge your situation.  Trying to accept the situation you are in will allow you to move forward.   You don’t have to like it, but accepting it goes a long way toward a healthier outlook.  

  • Try to see the possibility of change moving forward.  Decide if and how you can take control of the situation, even in the smallest way.

  •  If your struggle involves another person, try to look at things differently from their perspective, or change your approach.   

  •  Recognize that sometimes, being flexible is necessary and easier than fighting change – particularly if there is some good that can come out of it.

  •  Try to remain optimistic.  Many times, the changes we fear actually end up being a positive force in our lives.

  •  Do your best to manage your stress.   Make sure you are taking adequate time for self-care.  Try to continue engaging in activities you enjoy, so you’re not fully immersed in this one facet of your life. 

We all need more resilience in our lives.  Being resilient allows us to adjust well when faced with trauma, big changes, stress, or life’s day-to-day speed bumps.  Remaining flexible will allow us to maintain our focus to best handle a situation.  This will allow us to remain steadfast and strong, reserving our energies to best solve our problems, instead of the difficult emotions that can arise when faced with change or uncomfortable situations.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? 

If you don’t have it, there’s hope.  We can improve our psychological strength to become more adaptable, flexible and resilient, so we can be stronger in times of change or difficulty.

To schedule an appointment with Simon Niblock, LMFT email connect@simonniblock.com or call (512) 470-6976.

Blog References:

Clement, S., Schauman, O., Graham, T., Maggioni, F., Evans-Lacko, S., Bezborodovs, N., Thornicroft, G. (2015). What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychological Medicine, 45(1).

Mental Health America (2018) Mental Health for Men, Info Graphic. Accessed: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/infographic-mental-health-men 

Winerman, L. (2005) Helping Men Help Themselves. APA, Monitor on Psychology, June 2005, Vol 36, No. 6. 

World Health Organization (2018) Suicide Rates. Global Health Observatory (GHO) Data. Accessed: http://www.who.int/gho/mental_health/suicide_rates_male_female/en/

The Practice ATX

512-861-4131