Therapy is an effective method of treatment for psychological disorders.
Therapy is a fantastic resource for recovery and personal growth. It’s normal to feel nervous and unsure when you first start treatment because you’re effectively traversing uncharted territory.
When you first begin treatment, one of the most fundamental questions is how to tell if it’s helping.
The answer to this question can be a little challenging, given that therapy involves more than just chatting about your emotions while curled up on a comfortable sofa.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to remember that “it’s very common for symptoms to worsen before you start to feel better because difficult feelings will likely emerge in the therapy process,” according to Dr. Julie Hanks, a licensed therapist, TEDx speaker, and author of The Assertiveness Guide for Women.
Therefore, treating a headache with aspirin is not as simple as it may seem. Because therapy is about finding and resolving the underlying root cause of the problem, unlike symptomatic medication, which just focuses on treating the symptoms.
Having said that, there are several signs of development and advancement that you can look for to see if therapy is genuinely working. According to mental health professionals, the following are signs that therapy is effective for you:
- You’re growing more conscious of yourself. According to Monica Vermani, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with a practice in Toronto and the author of “A Deeper Wellness: Conquering Stress, Mood, Anxiety, and Traumas,” therapy helps you understand your needs, desires, and choices and recognize your recurring maladaptive patterns. According to him, it also teaches you how to eliminate those harmful blueprints and patterns by giving you the necessary coping mechanisms to establish healthy routines and make better decisions. You’re probably on the right track if you become more conscious of your problems, symptoms, and unhealthy patterns.
- You have better emotional control. According to Hanks, you would be able to recognize your emotions, control them, and express them in ways that improve relationships. You also start to connect more intelligently and react less strongly to your intimate relationships, she continues.
- You’ve changed your mind. According to Dr. Vermani, you’ll start thinking more positively and constructively as opposed to negative or harmful thoughts. According to Hanks, this will make it easier for you to enjoy the moment rather than getting sucked into dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. You’ll also start setting realistic, doable goals rather than daydreaming about unreachable ideals, according to Dr. Vermani.
- You’re making positive behavioral changes. Your therapy is effective, according to Dr. Vermani, if you’re kicking bad behaviors and starting to see the improvements you hoped to achieve. For instance, if your goal in treatment was to become more assertive, and you’re starting to set limits with yourself and advocate for yourself, you’re progressing.
- You’re more forgiving of yourself. Your inner dialogue will soften, according to Dr. Hanks. Instead of being extremely critical and judgmental of yourself, you would start to accept your flaws and be gentle with yourself. According to Dr. Vermani, you’ll also notice that your self-confidence is increasing, and your self-doubts are decreasing. You’d be able to accept and value yourself from the inside out, letting go of feelings of inadequacy and the need for outside reinforcement of your self-worth.
- Your interactions with other people have gotten better. According to Dr. Vermani, therapy may help you develop the tools and skills necessary to successfully communicate your wants and needs and resolve relationship problems. This will enable you to have good communication with both yourself and other people. Therefore, it’s a good sign if you realize that your current relationships are growing stronger or that you can establish new ones more quickly.
- Others have noticed your excellent changes. According to Dr. Vermani, if your friends, family, or coworkers are commenting on the changes and your improvement, you should take them at their word because they are witnessing the effects of your diligent work.
- Your therapist and you “click.” You’ll feel comfortable discussing your issues, concerns, fantasies, and objectives with your therapist. Additionally, you would be able to directly address your therapist. According to Dr. Hanks, “it’s crucial to feel comfortable with your therapist since a solid client-therapist relationship is the single most essential component that predicts successful therapy outcomes.”
Dr. Vermani advises conducting a self-evaluation if you’re unsure of whether your present therapist is the best fit for you.
- I feel like I need help in the following areas: trauma, mood disorders, anxiety, relationship therapy, etc. Is my therapist equipped to help me with these issues?
- Do I feel confident telling my therapist about my innermost thoughts and feelings?
- Do I believe my therapist accepts me for who I am instead of misinterpreting or criticizing me?
- Do I need to act like a different person while I’m with my therapist?
- Do I believe that my therapist sincerely tries to understand me or that she understands me?
- Do I think my therapist genuinely cares about me and my problems?
- Do I believe I can communicate with them honestly and openly?
- Am I being heard?
- Do they frequently pause me?
- Am I gaining knowledge from my therapist?
- Is it possible for me to express any uncomfortable emotions or misconceptions with my therapist?
- Do I believe that the quality of my life is improving as a result of therapy?
Find a new therapist, advises Dr. Alex Zolotov, if your current one spends more time discussing their personal problems than yours.
Poor boundaries (therapist acting more like a buddy, not adhering to their own regulations, etc.), forgetting to have you sign consent for treatment and privacy policies prior to starting your first session, and a lack of connection is further warning signs, says Dr. Hanks.
“Talk to your therapist and ask for a referral to another therapist if you don’t ‘connect’ during the first three sessions,” she advises.
Four simple ways to track your progress in therapy:
- Make use of psychometric tools. You can monitor symptoms over time using rating scales and other brief standardized tests, according to Dr. Vermani. She continues, “Many psychologists utilize these to set a baseline and monitor symptoms over the course of therapy.” For instance, you can score the intensity of your symptoms on a weekly basis using the Likert scale, which ranges from 0 to 10. (0 being no symptoms and 10 indicating intense symptoms). Dr. Hanks advises choosing one specific symptom or problem you wish to focus on in therapy as a starting point. You’ll be able to evaluate your development over time.
- Consult your therapist. Dr. Hanks advises that you talk to your therapist about how they plan to monitor your development and receive feedback on how you’re doing through their monitoring procedure. “Never hesitate to ask questions. You should be aware of your therapy objectives and your therapist’s strategy for achieving them, “adds the expert in mental health.
- Keep a diary during therapy. Dr. Hanks advises keeping a daily record of your thoughts and emotions to keep track of your therapeutic progress. She continues, “You can review your earlier writing to see how your perspective has evolved over time. According to Dr. Vermani, you may also use it to write down both short- and long-term objectives you wish to accomplish throughout therapy so your therapist can hold you accountable.
- Pay close attention to how well you are living. According to Dr. Vermani, a sign of development is when you feel like you can better manage your emotions, stress, personal and professional obligations, relationships, etc.
How to get the most out of every therapy session?
Experts advise remembering these crucial pointers to make your sessions more wholesome and fulfilling, regardless of the sort of therapy you’re seeking or where you are in your healing process:
- Before beginning therapy, do some research about your therapist. Knowing their qualifications, experience, theoretical orientation, training, and certifications can help you determine whether or not they are qualified to assist you, advises Dr. Hanks. Here are some qualities to search for in a therapist.
- Speak candidly and openly with your therapist. A therapist is just as effective as you make them. If you feel like your therapist isn’t really “understanding” you or that you’re being misinterpreted, be open and honest about it with your therapist, advises Dr. Hanks. Dr. Vermani concurs, saying, “Your therapist can only properly help you address your difficulties and help you generate the change you’re seeking if you give them a clear picture of what you’re struggling with. Be specific about the goals you have for therapy as well. Dr. Hanks continues, “Set clear expectations and goals with your therapist.”
- Give treatment a chance to work. “Your own growth will be slowed down or blocked if you are doubtful or opposed to the procedure. This will just make your issues worse, “Dr. Vermani explains. “For instance, if you wanted to learn how to drive, you wouldn’t give up after one or two awkward or unsettling automobile rides. You’ll put up the time and effort necessary to learn, “She observes. Similar requirements apply to therapy, including time, effort, patience, and resolve. The psychologist continues, “It’s a dynamic process of learning and evolving.”
- Outside of sessions, do your “homework” assignments. According to Dr. Hanks, the majority of the transformation you go through will take place outside of the therapy office. It’s crucial to apply what you learn in therapy if you want to achieve life-changing results. “Work is therapy! Commitment and participation are necessary, “Doctor Vermani concurs. To practice the new skill or coping mechanism in your daily life, be rigorous about finishing whatever project your therapist offers.
- Be precise. “By being as explicit as you can during your sessions, you can keep the sessions concentrated on your counseling goals. Bring notes or other resources if it will help you to make sure you get to the topics you planned to address, “Dr. Vermani suggests. Furthermore, she advises “telling your therapist when a tactic isn’t working or when you’ve slipped up.”
- Give your therapist specific input. Interaction is a key component of therapy. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts with your therapist if you believe their technique isn’t working for you or if you have any doubts about their approach to therapy, advises Dr. Vermani. It’s crucial, she says, “that you feel validated, heard, and understood.”
It’s important to remember that therapy is a long-term solution. Depending on the difficulties you want to work on, and the therapist’s theoretical approach, “[it] can endure for months or even years,” says Dr. Hanks. She notes that it may take several sessions for your therapist to finish their assessment and treatment plan and have a comprehensive understanding of what brought you in and where you need to go for healing.
Dr. Vermani advises talking to your therapist about it if, despite your best efforts, you don’t feel that treatment is working for you. “The purpose of your therapist is to help and support you. They can assist you by suggesting another therapist if you’re not progressing, “she claims. “Continue with therapy. More importantly, keep trying to improve yourself, ” adds she.
Treatments at the Philadelphia Hypnotherapy Clinic
The clinic is located in the Northeast region of the Citi of Brotherly Love. Under the strict supervision of Victor Tsan, MD, the clinic provides different services, including but not limited to therapy, hypnosis, counseling, acupuncture, reiki, and homeopathy.
To schedule your appointment for an initial comprehensive evaluation and discuss with Dr. Tsan which treatment is best for you, contact the clinic to schedule an appointment or book it online here.