Monday, May 7, 2018

Your 1st Therapy Session and Soon Thereafter - Part 4

So this Monday’s blog is focusing on item # 4 of the article 7 Things You Should Know Before Your First Therapy Appointment.  The purpose of breaking this article into seven separate discussions is for its circulation to be broader through repetition, while reaching people as they enter into treatment (possibly for the first time).  If receptive, this article is not only insightful for new clients but it is useful as a refresher for people who are returning to analysis. Moreover, for the analyst this discussion provides as a reminder about connections, rapport building and ...
the intricacies of the analyst/analysand relationship.

I was able to validate this belief about the importance of optimising the first sessions this week through an unexpected phone call from a acquaintance who asked about finding a therapist for his family member who was contemplating starting therapy sessions.  I truly believe that entering treatment for the first time can often be daunting, scarry, vexing, and uncomfortable. Having a reference about what to expect and how to advocate for yourself in the beginning of counseling makes the therapeutic process manageable and possibly empowering.    
I suspect that by having an idea of what to expect before the first session my acquaintance was able to  support his family member in a way that opened the door for success in her therapy. So to tell a person that they should feel discomfort during session is a powerful tool for managing the therapeutic process. It might work as a destressor when the discomfort occurs and it helps one realize that being uneasy is normal in the therapeutic room.  What we find is that often people expect to feel miraculously better in therapy and the problems are solved - in the third session! Often what can happen is that these opened emotional wounds become overwhelming and distasteful between sessions. Without brain muscles to manage these discomforts the first line of attack is to discontinue sessions.  This could be problematic as the internal conflict has been surfaced which basically makes the issue worse than before treatment started. The other challenge is that if one aborts therapy they might choose to return in the future only to start over and spend time rehashing what has not been completed.  How many of us have come back to an unfinished project and thought the project would have been completed faster and easier had we done it the first time? Because now the rehashing and reviewing is just time consuming. We often can’t pick up where we left off. We have to go back; we have to review; we have to find a good place to revisit; we have to second guess where we restart.  The starting over is harder than starting.
Ask any handyman or construction person and they will tell you.  They hate and often won’t take jobs that were incomplete or that were started by someone else.  It is just hard to complete what was once started. The idea is often the same for therapy. Thus, uncomfortable feelings often cause people to stop therapy because something ugly is happening.  
Often that ugliness might be what is needed to reach the goal you seek from therapy.  To heal your emotional flu. You have to go through the fever, the achy skin, the achy bones and joints, the night sweats, the headaches, the weakness.  LIke the body healing from a flue; the mind must adjust and work out symptoms. But most of us are uncomfortable with mental disease; thus, we leave therapy.  As stated last week, the client must risk divulging perceived secrets only to be judged. Unknowingly, many clients do not realize many analyst are not capable of  judging someone’s behavior because of ethics and training principles. Personally as a Jungian trained psychologist my belief system is that all behaviors are rooted from the Psyche.  Thus, we all have actions and behaviors that birth from the collective unconscious. The ills that a client does or feels has been done and felt before and we are all capable of the same behaviors of resistance given different circumstances.  Thus the avoidance and uncomfortable feelings make sense.
So the best treatment for uncomfortable feelings is to return to therapy and tell your therapist and verbalize that you are wanting to discontinue therapy. This leads to a gateway of positives ranging from strengthening your relationship with your therapist to helping your therapist understand effective ways to manage your discomfort to you growing by expressing your feelings.  Thus, discomfort is good!

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