So what exactly is therapy?

It’s just talking to someone about your problems and getting advice, right? Seems easy enough and many of us have friends or family we rely on to vent to and seek advice from. So why therapy?

Well, therapy is more than venting and therapists actually don’t give advice! Therapy can be broken down into 3 parts:

  1. The framework

  2. The service

  3. The therapy relationship

  • The Framework of Therapy

Therapy is a process that takes time. It is a path towards healing where the therapist is the expert on the skills needed for change and growth and the client is the expert on themselves and their experiences. Therapy works best when a collaborative effort is made. According to professor and psychologist Dr. Clara Hill, there are 3 stages of therapy:

  1. Exploration

    1. You and your therapist will work together to understand you as a whole. This includes dissecting your presenting concerns, your identities, your upbringing, and your goals as well as how all of these aspects interact with one another. This is often a “silent” stage in the sense that your therapist is looking for recurring patterns and themes that will later provide insight into the “why?” of your problems at hand.

  2. Insight

    1. Utilizing the information gained from the exploration stage, your therapist will discuss the patterns and themes they notice and help you point out any others as well. The insight is how these patterns and themes impact you and contribute to your presenting concerns.
  3. Action

    1. Once there is an understanding of who you are, how your thoughts, feelings, and experiences contribute to your worldview, and how the patterns and themes impact your struggles, you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge on how  to begin to make changes to some of your views and determine more effective ways of coping.

 

These stages happen in a cycle and do not always occur in a step-by-step process. There is exploration throughout the therapy process to understand what you are seeking services for, to determine if the insight is accurate, and to analyze if the actions are appropriate help. Further insight often comes after exploration and action. The action stages offer more valuable information about what works and doesn’t work and why. The combination of the information that is provided in these stages helps you accomplish your therapeutic goals.

In addition to this basic framework of therapy, each therapist also has their own approach. You can check out this site for more information about specific theoretical approaches to therapy. Most therapists will take an eclectic approach which is a combination of a few different types. 

 

  • Therapy is a Service

At the end of the day, therapy is a service you’re paying for to seek changes that you wish to see within yourself. Although your therapist is the expert in the field, you are the expert on yourself. You’re allowed and encouraged to speak up and ask for what you need. Therapy is collaborative for this reason. For change to occur, its vital  that you collaborate to develop SMART goals to make sure that you are working towards your goals and utilize therapy as a class. Just like school, everyone studies for varying amounts of time and has unique needs. You go to class to gain information and then go out into the world and apply what you learned. Once you graduate, you become more independent and self-sufficient. As a therapist, my goals for you follow this same path. I hope for you to learn, apply, and become an expert.

 

  • The Therapy Relationship

Research suggests that the most significant factor for change is the relationship you have with your therapist. You have to like your therapist, trust them, and feel comfortable with them to be able to lean fully into the process of therapy. If you are worried about what your therapist thinks of you and are guarded, then you won’t be able to focus on the deeper work you want to accomplish.

 

Finding a therapist that you feel is a good fit for you is incredibly important to your progress in therapy. Stay tuned for my next blog post that will help you find a therapist that is right for you!