When you start therapy you have a responsibility. To achieve your therapeutic goals you must first accept that you will be working hard to make positive changes in your life.
You will only have success when you and your psychologist work together on your identified therapeutic goals. Help yourself to get better by acknowledging your part of the deal in the following five key areas.
1. My life is my responsibility – getting better is my responsibility.
What does it mean to take responsibility for your own recovery? The first step is to stop passing the blame. Not blaming yourself or others might seem difficult at first, as someone surely is responsible for you ending up in this difficult situation. However, simply laying blame is a disempowering response and it does not lead to productive outcomes. When you take responsibility you are honest with yourself and acknowledge that your willingness to step outside your comfort zone and take action to get better will determine your success.
Take responsibility and commit to the following steps:
- Look for support and ways to learn new skills and strategies
- Be willing to look at your old unhelpful beliefs and to update them with more helpful ones
- Ask for help where you need guidance and reinforcement
- Prioritise your mental health and emotional wellbeing.
2. Prepare to reflect, evaluate and let go.
When we come to therapy we often bring along our strong ideas and beliefs. We know what works and what does not work in life, and we have established habits and patterns of behavior. However, when we step into a psychologist’s office we should be willing to start reflecting on our life and even reconsidering what may be some very strong beliefs.
If some long-held beliefs are not very helpful for you, you might choose to replace them with helpful ones. For example, if you strongly believe, “What others think of me is very important”, you set yourself up for a lot of heartache because people might have positive and negative ideas about you. Some views might be based on accurate information about you – others not.
Or you might feel that “it is important to please others”. What a self-defeating approach! It is simply impossible to keep all people pleased. Such a belief is not only unrealistic and unachievable, holding onto it might negatively impact on your confidence and self-esteem, increasing your anxiety and deepening your sadness.
So, ask yourself if you really need to hold onto some of your old unhelpful beliefs.
3. Practice new strategies – practice whenever you can.
New skills and strategies that you learn during your counselling sessions will not do a lot of good unless you start implementing them in your life. As with many other skills in life, unless you use them on a daily basis it will not be of much help. It is like driving and only checking your blind spots occasionally – ultimately it does not protect your wellbeing.
At the beginning it might seem like a lot of work, but any habit that we want to acquire takes some time to establish or change. Don’t let the effort discourage you. Remember when you learnt how to drive a car? It almost seemed impossible to keep in mind checking mirrors, focusing on the position of your foot and remembering all the buttons and road signs. Then, after a while, you just became accustomed to it and your anxiety decreased with practice. So practice until you master your new skills and strategies, until you are in control of your life.
4. Persevere until the end, but stay aware of traps, temptations and roadblocks.
The road to recovery and living the life you deserve can be a bit bumpy. Not only will it take some time to learn new skills and to establish healthy routines; you might encounter some traps, temptations or roadblocks along the way.
For example, when you are working hard to manage your binge drinking and you are doing well for a month, you might be tempted to relax and to “reward” yourself with a night of unlimited drinking at a pub with mates. Or, if you are working hard on establishing new healthy boundaries with your family members, you might be accused of been unappreciative and cold when you ask your mother to give you a call rather than arriving unannounced. Or, perhaps you are working on your assertiveness skills, but when your colleague screams at you in front of everyone because you borrowed her stapler you choose not to say anything despite the humiliation, telling yourself the tirade was justified because you took it without asking – even through you agreed earlier it was okay to do so.
There are many times when your road to recovery might seem too hard and you might lose your motivation to continue; however, you need to stay on the road. Whatever happens, commit to the process of getting better and give yourself a chance.
5. Imagine your life to be different.
Once you finish reading this article, I want you to close your eyes and to imagine what your life would look like once you achieved your goals. Imagine yourself strong, confident, successful and at the same time content and at peace. What is different about your life? How are you different? Is your job the same or different? Do you have the same friends? What about your intimate relationships – how do you treat your partner and how does your partner treat you? What new opportunities will life present?
As with so many other goals in life you have to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve from therapy. Take responsibility for your life and recovery, take the first step and find what works for you and start implementing it daily. There is no magical instant solution to anything. It is your perseverance and desire to succeed that will help you to achieve your goals.
Posted August 27, 2014 by Yuliya Richard.
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