Therapy was a necessary component in the healing process for me. The layers of my traumatic life events seemed like a jumbled maze too difficult to sift through. When I thought about getting to the root of my problem, I felt like you’d imagine a person would feel opening the front door of a serious hoarder’s house for the first time.
Too much. Too difficult. Overwhelming.
Those thoughts kept me from seeking help for decades. When I finally did receive therapy, it was part of the recovery process at the addiction rehab facility I checked myself into after a decade of alcoholism and opiate addiction drove me to toy with suicidal thoughts.
I know…it sounds dramatic, but that’s the way it happened for me. Now that I know what I do about the results of quality psychotherapy, I recommend it to anyone who is feeling stuck, depressed, anxious or unsure about life.
Trauma, left untreated, will not magically heal itself. It will slowly permeate everything in your life; the way you see things, the way you react to situations, and the level of passion and enthusiasm you have toward life. Finally, trauma will manifest in a variety of ways: eating disorders, addiction, unhealthy relationships, codependency, depression, nightmares, irrational phobias, impulsive behavior, and on and on.
Does Therapy Really Work?
For me, yes. I loved it. My therapist used exercises and assignments that revealed the way I thought about things, and, over time, my sessions allowed me to heal from the inside out.
Countless studies have shown that psychotherapeutic treatment works for others too. The effects have been measured in reduced symptoms of depression, relief from anxiety, improved social functioning and overall increase in a sense of well being.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General: "Mental disorders are treatable and the evidence for treatment being effective is overwhelming."
A study of 10,000 Kaiser patients revealed that patients who receive treatment tend to be healthier overall, spending less days in the hospital when they do require care and visit their primary physicians far less often.
Armed with this information, I want to also interject a huge exception.
I call it therapy without clarity.
When Therapy Won’t Be As Effective (Or Not at All)
If you are a person in very early recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism, a person who has just had a bout with binge eating or bulimia, or simply struggles with very poor nutritional and hydration habits, you will not receive the full effects of therapy.
Why? Because, mental clarity and the ability to bring your mind into focus during therapy is going to have a lot to do with positive outcomes.
If you’ve got zero ability to be present in the moment because you’re restless, impulsive, and dealing with high anxiety, I would encourage you to do the following five things for at least a week before therapy:
Fostering Mental Clarity and Stability Before Therapy
So, get these five things in place. It seems like a lot, but trust me, I’m the queen of “don’t want to” and “not right now” but I’ve developed these healthy habits in my own life, and they help me to be the best version of myself.
Commit to do all of them for one week, and I guarantee you’ll get so much more out of therapy!
We only live one life. It’s important to nurture ourselves, mind, body and spirit.
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