In this week’s post, NYC therapist and MyWellbeing member Jennifer Mann talks about strategies to help you go deeper in therapy, addressing the roots of the concerns that brought you to therapy and making real, tangible progress. To learn more about Jennifer or schedule an initial consultation with her, visit her profile page.
With the many challenges you face, it can often feel like there is not enough time to delve into the root of your concerns in 45 minutes of therapy. Oftentimes, what you may focus on in therapy is a bad conversation you had with your boss, a confrontation that just happened with a friend, or a crazy subway ride that caused anxiety on the way to your appointment. In no way are these topics unimportant; in fact, they should be brought into the therapeutic space.
However, what brings people to therapy most often is a conscious, deep-seated struggle that is painful, unprocessed, and significantly impacting their wellbeing.
It is no surprise that many people have a harder time bringing these topics to the forefront, and you may be one of those people. As humans, we attempt to avoid pain. Some people come to therapy for this very reason - as they believe that therapy can fix their issues or reduce their pain if they simply come to their appointments each week. While therapy can result in both pain reduction and healing, it takes the willingness of the individual to acknowledge their deepest struggles in the room.
Acknowledging our deepest struggles is hard on so many levels. Many of us don’t realize when we are avoiding painful thoughts, feelings or experiences and how we go about deflecting and redirecting. It is a skill that we all hone to survive in our current society, so, naturally, we all do a great job! However, when we don’t let the barriers down, the healing process cannot penetrate the person. Therapy is truly a two-way street that involves the willingness of the patient and the skill of the provider.
Each person comes to therapy with concerns that vary in severity and treatment needs. Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
However, there are some key factors to apply that allow you to go deeper in your therapy, which allows you to address the core issues that brought you to therapy and helps you make real, tangible progress!
Looking for the right fit is tough work, but well worth it. The more you feel connected and safe with your therapist, the more fruitful therapy can be. If you feel that something just does not feel right in your relationship with your therapist, that’s okay! Take your time to find someone who really makes you feel heard and validated in your experience.
Use therapy to get to the heart of your deepest concerns and struggles. If you have a sense of what these issues are already and feel that there are too many to count, try to prioritize. What is the one thing you have not been able to wrap your head around or process on your own?
The therapeutic space is meant for you and your needs. There is no right or wrong in terms of choosing to discuss more recent issues or those that remain a deeper thread in your story. It can be helpful to check in with yourself and ask, ‘which issues are impacting me the most today?’ Alternatively, if you realize that your most recent sessions have been focused on less significant topics, it could be time to set aside your weekly concerns for that bigger issue you have to address.
You have the power to bring what you want to the table in therapy. If you are not quite sure you are ready to dive into your deep concerns, introduce the idea.
One possible entry point is to bring up a theme surrounding your concern such as family relationships, intimacy, overwhelming feelings, or whatever remains an unprocessed struggle for you. Bringing the theme of your concern into the room and sharing your feelings surrounding this topic with your therapist is a great place to test the waters before you jump in fully.
Once you feel confident that you would benefit from bringing up your concern, set the pace that makes you comfortable.
Pro tip: you can always express how you feel in the moment of sharing your thoughts and concerns. It is normal to have mixed emotions when describing painful, unresolved struggles.
By expressing how you feel in the moment, you can make the experience of sharing be part of the conversation. Let your therapist support you through the sharing process.
If there are more recent issues that you want to discuss along with your more deep-seated issues, share this at the beginning of your session. You and your therapist can create a loose agenda to make sure there is time to address each concern in this and in future sessions.
It takes time to unravel and process pain and struggles. You may find that talking it through can sometimes leave you feeling relieved and other times can bring up difficult emotions.
Embracing your therapy as a process can reassure you that you are making progress and your time in therapy is productive. Time is one of the main ingredients in the recipe for meaningful change and insight.
Giving yourself space to heal takes courage and strength. For those of you that go deeper in therapy, has it brought you closer to achieving your goals in therapy? How has this impacted your wellbeing, your relationships and outlook?
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing more information on how people can go deeper in therapy and get closer to achieving their goals.
Any topics you’d like to see featured on our blog (or articles you would like to write)? We’re all ears! Email us at [email protected] or chat with us on social @findmywellbeing.
Jennifer Mann is a psychotherapist working with highly motivated individuals coping with concerns including anxiety, relational issues, women’s health concerns, and life transitions. Jennifer earned her master’s degree from Columbia School of Social Work and received additional training from the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Jennifer fosters a collaborative space for clients to build a more fulfilling life full of value and joy.
You can learn more about Jennifer on her profile page.