Long-term Therapy: It Pays Off
I have been really enjoying my own personal therapy lately. After taking a few months off it feels like I am “back home” after an extended vacation. As someone who began therapy almost seven years ago, I have seen my journey and experience in session shift and evolve. Many of my clients come with a “problem” that they would like resolved. Maybe the “problem” is called “anxiety” or “family problems” or “poor body image”. And after 4-6 sessions of progress, the question inevitably comes up “what now”? For many this means we both happily part ways until next time. But for some it means we have cleared the clutter to do some rich, long-lasting and difficult work. It means that not only is the “problem” gone, but relationships, choices and intrinsic propensities from our past unknown can also be permanently altered. From my own experience both as a therapist and client here are some juicy perks that come with long-term therapy work.
Our insight and awareness is strong and intact. Just like regular exercise, weekly sessions invite the unconscious to become conscious with fluid ease. When we know our stuff or can find out our stuff quickly, it helps prevent triggers, enables coping and makes relationships and conflict more manageable.
We get to be a better friend, professional, spouse, and parent. After addressing symptom relief, boundaries, triggers and coping skills and other presenting problems that often arise at the beginning of a therapeutic relationship, we then get to put our new tools into practice while knowing we have a place each week to express and play out our imperfections. It brings me so much relief to know I have my personal space to unravel the bad parts of me that are disallowed or uninvited in outside relationships.
We are not stagnant; we are growing. Each week I really do learn something new about myself. I make new connections and have even more insight to choices that I make and interactions that I have. Knowing that I make proactive steps to be better and stronger in my mental health and interpersonal relationships spurs momentum, excitement and energy into my life.
We are grounded. In a world of uncertainty, change and chaos we are so susceptible to questioning and doubt. “Am I making the right decisions with my business?” “Should I stay with my boyfriend”? “Is my teen going to hate me for disciplining her this way”? Therapy does not necessarily assure you you’re making the right decision, but rather, promotes a strong foundation within us toward self-determination, ego strength and belief in permission to succeed and fail without a fatal collapse of our sense of self. We get to be praised in our wins; we get to receive unconditional regard and care in our losses. We get to be… us.
I get to be a better therapist. In the line of work where intimacy and connection is my goal, it is inevitable to experience leakage of my own stuff getting in the way. It is imperative for me to continue my own work so that I can give of myself objectively and fully as much as possible. Additionally, my personal therapy helps connect me to the client process; I have the privilege of understanding the pain, the courage and the awakening that takes place together. It is an honor to be invited in and an honor to stay together.