The Basics of Therapy – Part 1

Published on July 22, 2020

New to therapy? Learn what to look for when getting started.

Everyone has faced challenges in life at one point or another. You may have lost a loved one, become addicted to drugs or alcohol, or perhaps you’ve experienced a very traumatic event that replays in your head every day. Regardless of the situation, you may have experienced, starting therapy can significantly help you improve your health – both mental and physical. Therapy can heal your painful feelings, better your relationships, help relieve stress, and change your destructive habits. With treatment, you can lead a better life.

What is Therapy?

The idea of therapy can scare people – sitting in a chair talking about your deepest and darkest emotions can seem overwhelming. However, therapy is a two-way process of communication. It involves a person(s) meeting a therapist (also known as a counselor or psychotherapist) to seek a solution for their problematic behaviors, emotions, beliefs, and related physical symptoms. Here are a few quick facts about therapy that you should know.

  • You can seek therapy as an individual or as a group.
  • You are as important as your therapist in the process.
  • Whatever you discuss is confidential. An exception is when your life or that of another person’s life is in danger.
  • Your therapist’s primary focus is on making the therapy process both safe and emotionally productive/supportive.

Elements of Good Therapy

Various types and modes of therapy exist. While there is no single form of treatment that is perfect across the board, a useful and ethical therapy session should at least include the following features.

Non-pathologizing

Let’s say you are addicted to drugs, and you really want to recover from addiction. You seek help from a friend, but you are criticized and judged about your addictive behavior. How will you feel? Do you think you will really stop your drug addiction? Probably not. Good therapy is one that is non-pathologizing. Meaning, you are viewed as greater than your problems. The therapy process should serve as an opportunity for you to heal, feel safe and comfortable being totally vulnerable.

Empowering

A good therapy process should help maintain a strong belief that you can change for the better. It should make you feel that you possess the inner resources needed to change, even if you haven’t entirely developed the necessary coping mechanisms yet. A good therapy process makes you believe that you can heal if you want to and that you can contribute to your own growth.

Collaborative

“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him… We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.” – Albert Schweitzer

The above is the spirit of collaborative therapy. Ultimately, you become a co-therapist in your therapy process. The therapist helps you get to know yourself and discover your inner being better than anyone else. As such, you access your inner strength and wisdom to resolve your problems.

Focus

A therapist should be empathetic to make the therapy process a success. He or she should focus on addressing your therapy needs and not his or her personal issues during the process.

How to Find the Right Therapist

Not all therapists are the same. In fact, it can be effortless to get an appointment with a therapist but difficult finding the right one to help address your therapy needs. Often times, people will go through multiple therapists until they find one that they connect with. You can tell you have found the right therapist when:

You feel comfortable talking to the therapist: If you can easily relate to your therapist and feel safe during the therapy process, you have found the right therapist for you. If your therapist is a “know-all” type or gets arrogant while addressing your needs while meeting, it’s time to look for a new therapist.

The therapist approaches you compassionately and optimistically.  He or she should obey the elements of good therapy.

The therapist has a clear plan.  The right therapist should be able to explain to you how they are going to help guide you in resolving your problems.

The therapist accepts feedback. The right therapists should be open to listening to your successes and take input on the approach they helped provide. Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

The therapist makes you feel independent. If your therapist provides you with wisdom, emotional support, and answers without motivating you to utilize your own resources to resolve your problems, run! They may be merely making you dependent on therapy, and therefore when the therapy process is over, you go back to the same challenge you had before therapy. The right therapist is one who uses therapy to help solve your problems and stay motivated and engaged in the therapy process.

The therapist has experience and knowledge. The right therapists should have experience in solving a particular issue. Good healers are wounded healers, and therapists who are active in their own therapy may be the right people who can help you. They can do both – talk the talk and walk the walk. That’s why many therapists at rehabilitation centers are powerful; they have experienced similar situations and can relate.

The therapist should be licensed. In most states, a licensed therapist must have a postgraduate degree, have some form of supervised clinical experience, and pass a state exam. It varies by state, but you can typically verify that your therapist is licensed by contacting your state professional licensing board.

At Rockland Treatment, we understand how consuming addiction is and how intimidating taking the first step to a better, sober life can be. We have served clients nationwide with our residential and outpatient programs using custom-built treatment plans to help you achieve and maintain sobriety, and we are ready to do the same for you. We recognize that each person’s journey is unique, and will work with you to determine your individual needs and desires for recovery.

Your path to recovery and wellness starts with the first step. Contact us for a free assessment, and allow us to show you how our program can help you lead the life you want, unshackled by addiction, and surrounded with love.