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Those starting therapy for the first time

FlipperK

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If you find that you are starting therapy for the first time or looking into it. Some helpful tips:

1) Not all therapists are the same. Some only do general therapy and others do specialty items such as CBT. Be sure to ask the therapist ahead of time your issues and if they are able to help you.

2) Therapy will not be an instant solution. This is the long game. It will take many sessions to start ironing out your issues. However, you most likely will feel better just talking to someone.

3) Be ready to be open minded. You Will hear things that may sound wrong or weird, such as your concerns is a symptom of anxiety.

4) Therapy will take hard work and dedication from you outside of therapy. You will learn tools and have homework to do. Be sure to do it. All the time. If you don’t put in the work, therapy will be a waste of time and money.

5) Having said the above, giving therapy a try is always a great step in the right direction. It took me about 5 sessions to really understand and see the process.
 

Lanchparty7

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Good advice! Especially your second point. My therapist right now is really the only person I can open up to and he is not judgemental in any way. Glad I stuck with it after some uncertainty. I has another therapist I was working well with but he up and left the group and moved away so I just was randomly assigned someone else and I really wasn’t sure about him at first....but I am in a good place with him right now.
 

suzzeeb

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If you find that you are starting therapy for the first time or looking into it. Some helpful tips:

1) Not all therapists are the same. Some only do general therapy and others do specialty items such as CBT. Be sure to ask the therapist ahead of time your issues and if they are able to help you.

2) Therapy will not be an instant solution. This is the long game. It will take many sessions to start ironing out your issues. However, you most likely will feel better just talking to someone.

3) Be ready to be open minded. You Will hear things that may sound wrong or weird, such as your concerns is a symptom of anxiety.

4) Therapy will take hard work and dedication from you outside of therapy. You will learn tools and have homework to do. Be sure to do it. All the time. If you don’t put in the work, therapy will be a waste of time and money.

5) Having said the above, giving therapy a try is always a great step in the right direction. It took me about 5 sessions to really understand and see the process.
I have seen 2 counselors in the past few years, one just a licensed mental health counselor and the other a psychologist with 40 years of experience. Both said totally different things, which was just confusing to me so I stopped going. How do you know if what they are saying is even true? For instance the counselor said the feelings come first and then the thought and the psychologist said the thoughts come first and then the feelings of fear. One never really gave me any homework or much advice and with him it was more just to vent, and the other told me if I changed my thoughts the anxiety would go away but that it would take a long time, and that's about all he had to say. I found myself confused about a lot of it. I don't really get what the "work" would be I guess.
 

Belizz

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Thanks a lot for helpful information Flipper <3 I firmly believe therapy is a very important part of healing.

Since you started a therapy thread, lemme add a couple from my experience. I am no expert but got a good chance of analyzing both techniques. Sorry in advance for TLDR moments xD.
I got therapy help from psychologists, psychiatrists, and certified therapists. Sometimes I was satisfied sometimes not, as you said all work differently. Also depends of what you need. I had experience with two of the main therapy models, both Psychotherapy (general therapy you mentioned) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT in short). In my opinion both work for different type of healing and their targets in therapy are different.

CBT gives you lots of homework you have to learn lots of coping techniques and it's all about re-training your habits and thoughts. It's amazing in treating many cases of anxiety disorders and gives great results in treatment of depression but keep in mind that it's focused on teaching you coping mechanisms for how you are feeling and how to cope with your symptoms.
Now, Psychotherapy on the other hand is a very long process, can take up to couple of years or maybe more but it's aim is to dig deep into your deepest thoughts and experiences and to find out whatever feelings, experiences and traumas you are avoiding to face. It also may or may not give you homework. But not the same type of work like in CBT, unless the therapist prefers mixing those two techniques.
Remember, all anxiety disorders and depression are actually defense mechanisms created by ourselves to protect us from let's say, over heating and burning. Mentally speaking. They are coping mechanisms themselves.

So my logic is, with all these therapy techniques I was offered, that I am more comfortable with Psychotherapy even though I think CBT is very helpful. I think they should either be used together or just Psychotherapy. If I am going to spend lots of money and time on therapy then it should be the method that will go deep and find the causes of my distress so that I can punch them in the face personally. It's a more painful process because you will eventually face those painful things your mind has been avoiding. But it's worth it. As for CBT it feels to me like sweeping the dust under your carpet. I don't mean it in a bad way really, it works for many but it's just symptom oriented. It works on your feelings and thoughts and it is amazing if you want to cope with your anxiety symptoms, for instance if you suffer from Panic disorder, that's a good treatment.
One of my Psychiatrists actually said that "CBT is a relatively new technique and popular but it's not for everyone. If you are a kind of person who likes to take things to your hand, do your research before hands, want to treat your own mental disorders, curious and like to analyze, then you already tried some of those coping mechanisms before contacting a professional and those didn't work on you." may sound strange I know but I found it very interesting. So if I understood it correctly that means, people need to analyze their problems a bit before getting help, so they have somethings to say.

Well in the end, all depends on what your prefer. The most important thing is that you need to be thinking and working on your own ailment.
The thing many people perceive wrong in therapy is that everyone thinks that therapists are magicians who lift your problems and take them away magically. No, they are guides that give you options because they are educated and they know treatment techniques.

For instance the counselor said the feelings come first and then the thought and the psychologist said the thoughts come first and then the feelings of fear. One never really gave me any homework or much advice and with him it was more just to vent, and the other told me if I changed my thoughts the anxiety would go away but that it would take a long time, and that's about all he had to say. I found myself confused about a lot of it. I don't really get what the "work" would be I guess.
Unfortunately we need luck to find a good therapist because not all are caring. Some of them I met were just there to listen. Some wanted to just apply homework, and they were not interested in hearing my traumas (which I think are the cause of my distress, hello!) so it's a long process unless you are a lucky person. But, you can ask around or read reviews, get recommendations. Still you may not find the right one. It takes time to get use to that person's way of working but you should be able to say your own needs and preferences.
The thoughts>feelings or feelings>thoughts question is centuries old and drs have divided opinions on that. But generally thoughts -> feelings theory is accepted. Even though sometimes I feel like I am having feelings out of nowhere and then BAM, my day is ruined because I have negative destructive thoughts. So, I don't know really :(

Sorry guys for the long post, just my views.
 

cheer_mom

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I have seen 2 counselors in the past few years, one just a licensed mental health counselor and the other a psychologist with 40 years of experience. Both said totally different things, which was just confusing to me so I stopped going. How do you know if what they are saying is even true? For instance the counselor said the feelings come first and then the thought and the psychologist said the thoughts come first and then the feelings of fear. One never really gave me any homework or much advice and with him it was more just to vent, and the other told me if I changed my thoughts the anxiety would go away but that it would take a long time, and that's about all he had to say. I found myself confused about a lot of it. I don't really get what the "work" would be I guess.
My therapist gave me homework. He said the brain is like a computer. If you input incorrect info "untrue thoughts" it sends an error code. ANXIETY. Once you learn to change the thought, for example, I'm having a heart attack to I may be having a heart attack but most likely this is my anxiety, the anxiety level begins to come down because that is more correct thinking. It took A LOT of practice before I was able to get to the point of seeing the flaws in my thinking, but 100% worth it. Look up cognitive therapy.
 

bin_tenn

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My therapist gave me homework. He said the brain is like a computer. If you input incorrect info "untrue thoughts" it sends an error code. ANXIETY. Once you learn to change the thought, for example, I'm having a heart attack to I may be having a heart attack but most likely this is my anxiety, the anxiety level begins to come down because that is more correct thinking. It took A LOT of practice before I was able to get to the point of seeing the flaws in my thinking, but 100% worth it. Look up cognitive therapy.
Very valid points and great advice. It also took me quite some time to see the flaws in my thinking, but it does indeed make a huge difference once you learn to do that.
 

suzzeeb

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So for those of you who felt like it made a difference and helped with your anxiety, do you still need medications or does the counseling work well enough that you can manage without them?
 

Belizz

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So for those of you who felt like it made a difference and helped with your anxiety, do you still need medications or does the counseling work well enough that you can manage without them?
I got both medication and therapy for treating my Panic Disorder problem before but medication helped most with my panic symptoms. If it wasn't for medication I wouldn't be able to focus on healing with therapy.
I still do have panic attacks but not as severe and frequent. Because I was taught how to cope with those during the therapy (in a calmer state of mind because of meds) now I can easily cope with then when/if they happen.
I think the answer to your question depends on what type of ailment you are talking about.
 

FlipperK

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So for those of you who felt like it made a difference and helped with your anxiety, do you still need medications or does the counseling work well enough that you can manage without them?
That depends on you personally. Some will take medications continuously for a base line, others therapy is all that is needed.

However, with true anxiety you probably will need medication (even if very low dose) for most of your life to keep you in check daily. It will get very expensive to have therapy everyday.
 
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