OVERVIEW: KEEPING THERAPY IN MIND
Psychotherapy can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century in the form of psychoanalysis and assessment based treatments. Sigmund Freud is the leading figure behind psychoanalysis, in which the practitioner and client explore underlying thoughts, feelings, and meaning. Think: walls, couch, ego, superego, id. Modern depictions may also come to mind: the psychiatric hospital in Netflix’s Ratched, HBO’s In Treatment, Dr. Orna Guralnik on Showtime’s Couples Therapy, even Katy Perry’s evolution with Dr. Siri Sat Nam Singh on Viceland's The Therapist.
Psychotherapy embraced evidence-based treatments in the 1950s. Drs. Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck pioneered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a research-validated style of treatment. Historically, both psychiatrists and psychotherapists practiced psychotherapy. For psychiatrist depictions of psychotherapy, you might refer to Irvin D. Yalom’s experiences or Karl Deisseroth’s accounts. Nowadays, clinical psychologists, counselors, and social workers practice therapy. There is an acknowledgment of many factors influencing our mental health, such as the impact of biology and environment in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)’s biosocial theory and an acknowledgement of multiple levels influencing health and wellbeing: the individual, interpersonal, institutional, and societal-community.
NEXT STEPS WHEN WORKING WITH A THERAPIST
Research features the importance of the therapeutic relationship in determining client outcome success. And while trusted others may provide a great outlet, it can be helpful to have a consistent, unbiased perspective when making sense of our lives. A therapist can provide acceptance. They can be a collaborator as you test new ways of thinking and behavior.
Therapists created a guided journal to make the most out of your time in therapy. You’ll practice keeping your thoughts and emotions organized. You’ll identify what brings you to therapy and set clear goals. You’ll select topics to discuss for each session, recalling events and experiences from the week. You’ll immediately reflect on your therapy session. You’ll use these insights to evaluate your fit with your therapist. Do you feel a sense of respect and acceptance? What new goals can be set?
We understand that both deciding to start therapy and finding a therapist can feel daunting. It is a process: identifying a directory, filtering for results, ensuring a therapist is accepting new clients, setting up a consultation, understanding billing and insurance, establishing a sense of safety. Even more, this can seem pointless when reminded of the limited number of therapists.
Know that there are many sources of healing, including professional help and evidence-based resources. This might mean finding a therapist and therapy style that is affirming to you, your needs, and identity. You might research therapy styles to figure out which ones might work for you. Even if you’re not open to a particular treatment today, you might be open to an alternative at a later time. You might ask a loved one to assist you in emailing a few therapists for initial visits or calling your insurance company or employee benefit program to get clarity on coverage. Having a support system through this process can be necessary and healing. This support can be a form of advocacy when facing stressors outside our control, such as discrimination, which we write about here.
For more tips on working with a therapist and getting the most out of therapy, visit our blog post here.