A quick low down on therapy
For those of us who have been to therapy, we know the drill. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes it's bloody great. But every time it's helping.
For those of us who haven't been to therapy, here's a super quick low down.
What is therapy?
Therapy is a safe space for us to talk to an unbiased, non-judgmental person. The purpose is to understand and resolve behaviours, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues, and/or sensations in the body that are troubling you. No topic is out of bounds, no matter how big, small, serious or silly.
What does therapy feel like?
Before therapy, you might have a lot of thoughts and feelings and have trouble making sense of them. Picture these thoughts and feelings in your brain as a tangled piece of string. Talking to a therapist helps make sense of these thoughts and feelings. By providing support, exercises, techniques and different ways of thinking, a therapist can help untangle that piece of string.
How do I know if I need therapy?
If we have an issue with our knee, we go to a physio or a masseuse. If we have a sore throat, we go to the doctor. If our mind is troubling us, then we can see a therapist. It is equally important for us to seek professional help to keep our mind healthy. Just because we can't physically see the problem, doesn't mean it should be ignored.
What can/can’t I speak about?
What we choose to speak about in therapy is up to us. Common starting points for therapy may include any of the below:
- Sleep concerns
- Low mood
- Adjustment difficulties
- Grief and loss
- Drug and alcohol related concerns
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- LGBTQ issues
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Relationship issues
- Procrastination and perfectionism
- Workplace stress
There are certain things that are off-limits during therapy. Confidential conversations about other patients your therapist sees, romantic conversations (or activity) toward each other, and demonstrating insensitivity to culture, sex, race, gender, or identity.
Different types of therapists:
There are lots of different types of therapists out there, some with very confusing (and long) qualifications. It can be hard to know which type of therapist will be the right fit for you. Here is a list of some common therapists in Australia and what they typically deal with:
- Psychologists: identify underlying issues, diagnose, formulate and develop treatment plans to help you cope or overcome your issue. Their solutions are commonly drawn from theory, science, and clinical knowledge. There are General and Clinical Psychologists, and you can receive a rebate from Medicare if you have a Mental Health Care Plan (from your GP).
- Counsellors: utilise a person-centred approach and often use ‘talk-based’ therapy to work with you to help you identify and resolve issues.
- Psychiatrists: trained medical doctors with a strong focus on exploring the biological basis of mental health conditions. They often prescribe medication, and some will also provide psychological therapy as well.
- Psychotherapists: psychotherapy is a specialisation for working in depth with people who are dealing with a range of personal and well-being issues including diagnosed mental health conditions. They assist their clients to understand how past experiences influence and shape their current responses to life events.
- Social workers: often take a holistic approach in their work with individuals to resolve their presenting psychological problems, the associated social and other environmental problems, and improve their quality of life. This may involve family as well as individual counselling, and group therapy. You can also receive a Medicare rebate for sessions with an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker.
How can I find a therapist?
Think about what you want to talk about and who you would feel comfortable speaking to about it to. Keep in mind this may change over time. If we feel at ease, we are more likely to share and allow our therapist to work with and guide us.
Try not to let distance be a barrier to therapy. For example, if your gym is an hour away, you’re likely to skip the gym when you don’t feel like going. Finding a therapist close to home or work will create less of a barrier when you don’t feel like going. Many therapists offer video call sessions as well as face to face.
Just like any relationship, a connection is important. Finding the right therapist might take a few goes, so be patient. You can begin this search by going to your GP, searching on-line or using a site called someone.health.
Friendly reminder that the above is not professional advice. It has been cultivated over a lifetime of lived experiences, trial and error, failures and most importantly successes. We encourage you to start your own mental health journey and to be kind to yourself along the way.