The Transformative Power of Therapy
Editor’s note: The writer is not a licensed therapist but has drawn these suggestions from her own experience and expert sources. Always seek diagnosis and treatment from a professional.
Most people aren’t particularly comfortable sharing the most intimate aspects of their lives, which is why therapy can be a daunting prospect. It doesn’t help that it’s often rooted in confronting the most painful experiences. Sure, the idea of therapy seems magical — sit down with someone once a week and all your problems will be fixed? Amazing. But in reality, it’s a much more difficult process.
Yet, for all the challenges, spending time in a therapist’s office can be transformative. As someone with my own personal relationship with therapy, I understand, and should emphasize, that your struggles won’t be miraculously alleviated and years of trauma won’t suddenly be resolved, but I do know that the time you invest with a therapist can have lifelong benefits. You can walk away with personal growth, valuable insights, and new perspectives on life that you didn’t have before.
If you’re looking to take that first step toward exploring therapy, here are some things to keep in mind.
Find someone who fits your needs — and personality.
While there’s a professional distance that all therapists and patients must keep, the process is still a deeply personal one for you both.
You’ll be spending time together and not only finding ways to heal from trauma or understand yourself better, but also rediscovering key elements of your personality to celebrate. The relationship you build with your therapist in your sessions can be one the most meaningful in your life. After all, you’re collaborating in exploring the potentially scary yet magical unknown reaches of your psyche.
This is also a particularly important consideration when you’re transitioning to a new therapist. Whether you’ve recently left your previous provider or just starting fresh, adjusting to seeing a new therapist can involve complicated feelings and experiences. It’s vital to identify not only what professional is best qualified to help you with your personal growth, but also to seek a therapist you click with on a person-to-person level.
Make sure the physical environment is comfortable for you.
Some of the key points of magic in the therapist’s office are associated with the office itself. After all, the environment in which you have your therapy can impact the overall experience. In the wrong space, there may be aspects you find distracting or times you feel unsafe. The right environment bolsters the magic you find in your sessions and empowers you to care for your mental health.
This can be something as simple as the colors your therapist uses to decorate their office. Neutral hues may support your ability to relax in the space and explore in peace. On the other hand, interesting artwork and decor can be inspiring. Particularly if art therapy forms part of your treatment plan, this can represent a vital way to feed your creativity and gain a more powerful experience.
Obviously, you can’t expect your therapist to change their entire office decoration and layout to meet your needs. In the first instance, it’s worth asking to visit the space when you’re reviewing potential providers. This helps you to select an environment that seems most suited to your personal growth needs. That said, there are also environmental elements you may be able to adjust during your sessions. Asking to play a specific type of music or soundscape in the background can boost the positivity of the experience and impact your comfort.
Be ready to take what you learned outside the therapist’s office.
Ultimately, you’ll be collaborating with your therapist to find peace and understanding not only within the office space but also in your everyday life. Think of the office as a safe space to explore your needs and consider your challenges. You’ll then work to repeat and embrace the positive results with practical techniques.
A particularly vital part of this is identifying and personalizing rituals for healing and growth. Everyone has unique needs and yours may be related to your stage of life. Younger people coping with the uncertainty of the future can start journaling as a way to “release” and work through their anxiety. Older adults dealing with depression may take up low-impact exercise as a way to boost endorphins — which will help reinvigorate positive feelings and perspectives.
You may also experience the magic in therapeutic practices that quiet the mind, such as adopting labyrinth meditation practices. This may help you to discover a sense of calm, have vital grounding during difficult times, and gain strength from self-reflection. The need for stronger centering and greater positivity you and your therapist have been exploring may be bolstered by daily walks surrounded by the natural environment. Finding and establishing these rituals will allow for a more holistic and sustainable impact.
There is no connection in your life like the one you can build in a therapist’s office, and the rituals you translate into your daily life can change the trajectory of your future. Ultimately, therapy can empower you to rediscover and embrace the beauty of existence — of your existence — which is a pretty magical thing.