Going back to my previous blog post, “What to expect in therapy?” it talks about what you can expect before and during your initial session. Now, I want to further address a common question folks have, which is, “Why can’t my issue be resolved in one session?!” It would be great if we all had a magical pill where we could just forget those awful memories or erase some of those frightening emotions, however, it does not exist, and emotions are truly what makes us human and distinct from other animals. Think of therapy as a lifestyle change, there is no quick fix or magic formula to resolving our struggles. They can take time and require transformations in ourselves to achieve the results we are desiring.
If you recall in my last blog post I shared that by the end of the initial session the therapist will ideally have a more clear idea of what your struggle is and an idea of how he/she will approach this situation. Do not expect your situation to be resolved after one session of therapy. This first session is really about getting to know you and your struggle before making any recommendations. Keep in mind that therapy is a process for change. You are the expert on your life and your therapist is there to help guide you in the direction you want to go. It may take a few sessions together before any change begins to happen. I like to look at it as a step like process. The first step is becoming aware of the issues that are presenting themselves. Understanding triggers to these concerns, how long they have been in existence and when they become worse. The next step involved identifying any underlying causes to the issue and reflecting on this– whether that be a trauma, life change, relationship, or the way we were raised. These initials two steps are important in laying the groundwork towards the more active part of therapy. Once you have a better understanding of how your struggle began and when it comes up, you and your therapist can begin the “doing” part of therapy. This will likely involve some homework assignments for you to participate in outside of therapy. Your therapist may become more active in challenging any unhelpful or inaccurate thinking patterns and encouraging participation in healthy behaviors. One of the beautiful things about therapy is that the more you invest and put into it the more you are likely to get out of it. You might even think of it as being similar to all that effort (or lack of effort) you put in at the gym to get your “beach bod” and the time you put into work to get that promotion; results can be a direct correlation of effort. Put the effort in for your better self because you are worth that effort.
When you look at most treatment approaches that have been proven to be effective in helping people heal, they are typically 12 weeks. So even when you feel you have made some headway and are starting to feel better, it’s important to remain in therapy in order to solidify these changes. Keep that in mind during this process and be patient with yourself. There is no “quick fix” to making lasting changes in your life.