I was thinking of going back to therapy.
This is sometimes a common thought, but, just like it can be so difficult to start going to therapy in the first place, it can also be difficult to get back into therapy.
For one, I think, “well, I know what I should be doing.” I’ve been to therapy before. I’ve taken courses on CBT in general and for anxiety specifically. I’ve written a book. I’ve gone to group therapy. I like to think that I know the drill. I usually can predict (or at least think I can predict) what the doctor would instruct me to do.
So why should we go to therapy? Why do I consider going back?
For me, I think that therapy keeps us accountable. This might be one of the most important aspects. If I know that I have to go report to my doctor on how I’m doing and talk to him about my anxiety or OCD for an hour once a week, every other week, or even once a month, I feel that much more responsibility to actually do my exposures and keep track of my progress. I feel like, for one, that I ought to be making progress.
Having to verbalize what I have done (or need to do or should be doing) to someone who is not related to me or in a relationship with me can help so much. It makes it real. It’s like the difference between auditing a class or just reading the text book on your own for fun and actually taking a class for credit. When you are taking the class for credit, you tend to take it more seriously.
Therapy also helps you to focus and hone in on what you should be working on. The therapist can give you structure. They can help you decide what is most important to work on first and where to go from there. Once you’ve accomplished that goal or overcome that challenge, they can help you to determine what still needs to be done, even helping you realize what parts of your life are being controlled by your anxiety that you may not even see because you are “too close” to the situation.
For me, I had to work on my contamination OCD and did that very methodically, and then my doctor and I talked out what things the OCD had touched besides the contamination issues. With him, I was able to see how many parts of my life had been affected (whereas before I had been so focused on that one glaring issue and just considered the other areas to be quirks or not so significant).
This perspective is so important sometimes, especially with OCD because it likes to maintain its grasp in any way it can and change topics.
Another benefit of therapy is simply having a trained professional on your team. They know more than we do about our mental illnesses and how to treat them. We may think we’ve done all that we can do, but chances are that there is another step or something more that can be done to protect, sustain, or maintain our mental health. They can help us as we think about our core beliefs and try to work even deeper into our issues and what is going on with our brains and minds.
I know it’s hard to go to therapy. I mean, now that I’m homeschooling, I don’t even know when I would go to therapy. I know it’s often expensive. I know it can be difficult to get an appointment. I mean, I really do get it. I’m not currently going to therapy, remember? But I just wanted to remind everyone that it is worthwhile, and if you are thinking about it, maybe that means that you would benefit from it.
There are options. Maybe you just go once a month or every three months. Maybe you find a therapist you can see at night, after work. Maybe you go to group therapy. I don’t know.
But don’t be ashamed to get the help you need. Therapy is awesome. It is nothing to be ashamed about.
Are you currently in therapy?
*photo of us with a great therapist, Dr. Jon Hershfield, after ADAM Con