5 Things I’ve Learned from 4 Years of Talk Therapy: How to Make the Most out of Your Sessions

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I started struggling with anxiety and depression when I dropped out of university. I had spent one day in my new dorm, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, and felt an overwhelming dread. I asked my dad to pick me up, and when I got into the car, I immediately broke down in tears. When my parents went home at the end of the week, I went with them.

About a month later, I suffered my first panic attack. This triggered a severe case of health anxiety coupled with depression. I needed help. It was only when I decided to go to talk therapy that I was able to get some real insight into my problems. Here are some pearls of wisdom that I have collected from the experience and how they can help you make the most out of your sessions:

1) Do not let fear stop you from Getting Help

There are many reasons someone may not choose to seek therapy. For years I told myself I did not want to spend the money, but really it was because I was afraid. I did not want to admit that I’d lost control over my life. It was only when I started going to my sessions that I realized I had already lost control. By reaching out to a specialist, I started the process of taking it back

2) Silence is Golden

For the first few weeks of seeing my therapist, our sessions were filled with awkward silences and many repetitions of the phrase ‘I don’t know what to say.’ It wasn’t that she was expecting me to say something. The expectations were entirely my own. I realized that my fear of the silence was linked to social anxiety that I’d suffered with for years. I learned how to battle the insecurities that kept those fears in place. Over time, I found that the silence gave me time to really think about what I wanted to say, rather than talking to fill space. Enjoy the silence. It may just lead you to an important breakthrough.

3) It will take a Long Time

Don’t expect to go into therapy and be done in a few weeks. It may take months or even years. The good news is that you will start to notice the results of your efforts in all aspects of your life, and they will stay with you long after you stop going. Who knows, you may enjoy these benefits so much that you will choose to continue going to therapy.

4) Silence is good until it Is Not

It was during one silent session that my therapist informed me that she was not a mind-reader. If I wanted help with my problems, I would have to start talking. From there, I started telling her every little thought that crossed my mind, even if I did not think it was relevant. It turns out, everything is relevant. If you have something to say, say it. Shaking the self-conscious mindset that I should speak only when it seemed pertinent has proved helpful in all aspects of my life. Now, I try to tell people what I’m thinking rather than waiting for them to guess.

5) If you’re reluctant to say something, you should probably Say It

There have been many times when I’m sitting in my therapist’s office, and I think of something that I probably should say but don’t want to. This could be for many reasons (mainly embarrassment), but in the end, I always say what’s on my mind. I believe this has helped me reap the most benefit from my therapy. In the discomfort, I often find answers.

Although you should only discuss things that you are mentally and emotionally ready to face, I’ve found it helpful to ask myself why I don’t want to tackle a certain thought. Usually, it goes back to fear. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

In short, going to therapy is always going to be a big decision for anyone. It will take time to overcome reservations or fears about telling your innermost fears and feelings to a complete stranger. The one thing I can guarantee is that there’s a profound freedom in entrusting that knowledge to someone in a safe place. My only hope is that the lessons in this article have provided some insight into how you can get the most out of your talk therapy. They’ve definitely helped me.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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About the Author: Natalie is a Belfast-born writer who likes to dig deep into topics that focus on wellbeing and betterment of self. When not writing, she can be found spinning about in an ice-rink or practicing the violin.

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