5 TAKEAWAYS FROM PSYCHOTHERAPY
Credits: Amen Clinic – July 31, 2020
- Learn what to expect.
Going to therapy can help you understand the symptoms and behaviors associated with various mental health issues. When you understand that the things other people say and do—or don’t do—are related to a condition, it can help you be less judgmental, less frustrated, and less hurt by them.
- Discover how to communicate better.
If you’re married to, work with, or are friends with someone who has a psychiatric condition, going to therapy can give you tools to learn more effective ways to communicate with them. For example, let’s say your spouse has ADD/ADHD. You routinely ask them to do the dishes after dinner and they say they’ll do them, but when you wake up the next morning there’s still a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. You get frustrated and irritated and snap at your spouse, which leads to a full-fledged argument. Not the way you want to start your day.
In therapy, a mental health professional might teach you that when asking someone with ADD/ADHD to complete a task, it can be more effective if you:
- Make sure you have their full attention by making eye contact.
- Get a verbal response from them to ensure they’ve heard you.
- Give them a deadline—rather than saying something vague like “after dinner” say something specific like “before 8 p.m.”
- Give them a gentle reminder.
As another example, let’s say you have a coworker with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). These individuals tend to have rigid thinking and to say “no” a lot. With these people, it’s best to offer them options. Instead of asking, “Do you want to set the meeting for Friday afternoon?” try asking, “Would you prefer to have the meeting on Friday, or would another day work better for you?” With options, people with OCD are less oppositional.
- Don’t take things personally.
When you’re around someone with mental illness, it can be hard to look at their words and actions objectively. You may take things personally and feel like their behavior is directed at you or that it is somehow your fault, which can make you feel bad, mad, sad, or defensive. In therapy, you can learn that their actions aren’t necessarily a reflection on you, which helps you maintain your self-esteem and a positive mood.
- Learn about treatment options.
Going to therapy can introduce you to numerous beneficial lifestyle changes that can make a big difference for you and your loved one. A therapist who has expertise in integrative psychiatry can offer suggestions for foods, mental exercises, supplements, and other strategies that can help minimize symptoms commonly seen in mental health conditions.
- Practice self-care.
Many people who go to therapy have devoted so much attention to their loved ones that they have neglected their own well-being and exhausted their inner resources. But if you’re emotionally and physically depleted, you’re more likely to get irritated, frustrated, or fatigued, which may exacerbate your loved one’s issues. This can lead to a downward spiral that doesn’t serve anyone. A trained therapist can help you stop feeling guilty about dedicating time to take care of yourself. In fact, going to therapy is often a first step to regaining a sense of control over your life and feeling like you deserve to be happy and healthy. And that’s an attitude that is beneficial to everyone in your life.