From work stress and traumatic life events to medical conditions and genetic predispositions, many factors can cause mental health problems, and these problems should be treated with the utmost attention. Fortunately, there has been higher awareness of the importance of therapy in recent years, and the stigma surrounding it is starting to slowly disperse. And yet, despite being curious about the benefits of therapy, many people still hesitate seeking treatment – either because they don’t know exactly what to expect or because they don’t know where to look for it. If life has been rather stressful lately, and you need someone to talk to, or you could use some help in achieving your potential, in-person therapy can bring a positive change in your life.
What exactly is in-person therapy? There are several types of therapy formats available, but in-person therapy is the classic and most popular one. It means that the session takes place in the therapist’s office and, in most cases, there are only two people in the room: you and your therapist. That office is a safe space where you can discuss and process your feelings and concerns, under the guarantee that the session is completely confidential.
We all feel overwhelmed from time to time, and experiencing sadness is a normal part of life. But how do you know if what you are feeling is normal or it’s a manifestation of a more complex mental health issue that needs to be discussed with a professional?
Here are a few signs that it might be time to seek in-person therapy:
The benefits of therapy go a long way. As simple as it may seem, sitting in a room with a certified counsellor for one hour every week can have a huge positive impact on your health and general wellbeing. It’s important to remember that a therapist will not take away all your problems, nor can they solve them for you. However, by using various therapy approaches, they will help you better process your emotions, deal with life’s challenges, and express your feelings in a constructive way.
In-person therapy is recommended for a wide range of mental health concerns, including:
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with one of these conditions, or you don’t feel that your symptoms are severe, therapy can still improve your life. The earlier you seek help, the faster you can get better.
When they think of in-person therapy, most people picture themselves lying down on a sofa and talking about their problems while the therapist nods mysteriously and takes notes on a clipboard, but that’s not really what happens during a therapy session. First of all, you don’t have to lie down if you don’t want to. And secondly, although there’s a lot of talking involved, your therapist will not judge you.
A more realistic description of therapy would be a problem-solving session. Your therapist will ask you what has been going on in your life, and you will be encouraged to speak openly about your feelings and concerns without worrying that you will be judged or looked down on. As to the exact approach that your therapist will follow, there is no such thing as a universal solution. Depending on your mental health concern and the severity of your symptoms, your therapist will recommend different techniques, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), EMDR, hypnotherapy, or Gestalt therapy. Sometimes, if the therapist deems it necessary, you may be invited to group therapy sessions, but, by default, in-person therapy sessions are individual.
After the therapy session, your therapist may ask you to do some “exercises” to practice what you have learned and process your emotions. For example, you may be asked to write your feelings in a journal at the end of the day, try something new, or even do some physical exercises. It all depends from case to case, and your therapist will always follow the approach that works best in your particular case.
As to how you feel immediately after the sessions, this is where things may get worse before they get better. Because you may be discussing difficult events and feelings that you may have bottled up, you may cry, and you may feel emotionally exhausted. This is all normal and part of the journey. Some clients experience relief after their first therapy sessions, while others need a few months before realising that therapy is starting to work. Keep an open mind and remember that your therapist is there to support you; no matter how you feel, you can talk to them about it.
Don’t worry if you’ve never been to therapy before. For most people, therapy is a new experience. Your therapist will help you feel comfortable and guide you on your journey to self-discovery.
The number of in-person therapy sessions you will have to take depends on the symptoms and the issues you want to explore. If your mental health concern isn’t particularly severe, you may not need more than six or eight sessions but, if the issues go a little deeper and you want to address a childhood trauma or clinical depression, then therapy can span across several years. As a general rule, therapy ends when you have achieved the goals that you have established with your therapist.
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