Therapy is hard work. It requires time and takes work outside of the session. Sometimes people are looking for a “quick fix” when it comes to mental and emotional concerns, and because of this, sometimes it’s easy for a person to get frustrated and give up on therapy. In this article, our hope is to address this frustration and prevent people from stopping therapy too soon.
Physical Health & Emotional Health
When you have strep throat, first you notice the pain in your throat and the difficulty swallowing. Next, you typically call a doctor to schedule an appointment. After the doctor examines you and runs tests, they can confirm a diagnosis and prescribe you medication to treat your illness. Then after a few days of taking your medication, your throat feels better and the bacteria starts to die off. Now, you no longer have strep throat, and you can return to your typical level of functioning.
When you think about sadness, anger, guilt, worry, and other symptoms of mental health disorders, the plan of treatment may seem less straightforward and more time consuming. Often, we find ourselves wanting a “quick fix” to take the pain away, but there’s no bacteria to kill off to stop emotional pain. One of the most important steps to staying in therapy is understanding how this therapeutic process works.
Garrett Counseling’s Therapeutic Process
At Garrett Counseling, our therapeutic process typically looks like:
- Contact Our Scheduling Department: To get started, you contact our office at (256) 239-5662 or online to speak with our scheduling department. The team members will let you know if you need a doctor’s referral to schedule an appointment. If you do not need a referral, the scheduler will create an online portal account for you through Therapy Appointment. You will then create a username and password. Once you are logged in, you will complete the intake paperwork. Once this paperwork is completed, you will be placed on the schedule with one of our licensed counselors.
- Initial Appointment: Your initial appointment will be a unique appointment. Your counselor will review your intake paperwork and follow up with necessary questions to understand your symptoms. This is similar to how your doctor would check your throat or listen to your heart at a check-up. These symptoms give your counselor a criteria to diagnose what you are experiencing. With this diagnosis, you and your counselor will identify your goals for therapy.
- Treatment Plan: After you identify your goals for therapy, your counselor will create a treatment plan. This plan will include the goals you and your counselor discussed, as well as the steps that will be taken to help you achieve these goals. Your counselor will send this plan to you via Therapy Appointment for you to review and sign.
- Attend Scheduled Appointments: Once your treatment plan is established, it is important for you to attend your scheduled appointments.
- Complete Homework: In addition to attending scheduled appointments, you may be asked to complete homework assignments and practice the skills you learn in your appointment.
What Does It Mean To Work Outside Of Appointments?
Change and healing does not occur by sitting on the couch in your counselor’s office. It happens outside of your sessions when you use the tools you learned in your appointment. So, what does it mean to work outside of your session?
- Practice: Practice the calming skills your counselor guided you through. For example, practice deep breathing, grounding, and/or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Challenge: Challenge the thoughts that bring you distress. For example, when you think “I’m stupid. I can’t do this.”; change the thought to “This is hard, but I am strong.”
- Set Boundaries: Say “no” when someone asks you to do things that will leave you overwhelmed, depleted, or angry.
These may feel like such small steps. While they are small steps, each step adds up to take you so far. Imagine therapy like climbing a ladder: You can’t jump to the end of the ladder; you have to take one step at a time to reach the top.
Other Things To Consider Before Stopping Therapy
Therapy is hard work, but what you gain is so rewarding. Before stopping therapy, we also encourage you to keep the following in mind:
- Therapy Is About Relationship: Building a relationship with a counselor can be scary. Just like with any other relationship, sometimes a counselor and client aren’t a good fit. This is okay, and your counselor can help connect you with someone who can better meet your needs.
- Therapy Is About Commitment: Therapy requires a time commitment. At Garrett Counseling, we start with weekly treatment. We know this can be difficult to maintain. Talk with your counselor about what may get in the way of your attending weekly appointments.
- Therapy Is About Communication: The most important reminder before stopping therapy is that if something isn’t working, communicate that to your counselor. Counselors are flexible and understand that life brings many challenges. Most counselors are willing to make changes to better meet your needs.
At Garrett Counseling, we are here to support you on your journey to mental wellness. If you are ready to get started, contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online.
This article was written by Emily Tester, a mental health professional at Garrett Counseling in Huntsville, AL. Learn more about Emily here.