What to expect and what not to expect from psychological therapy

The era of the COVID-19 crisis has not only had a political and economic impact on virtually every country in the world; in addition, they shed light on a new form of awareness of mental health problems and how these can be treated with psychotherapy.

While before the pandemic the belief that only a certain type of very unhappy people need to go to the psychologist was questioned, after these months of health crisis it is clear that almost all human beings are very sensitive in our context, and that seemingly subtle changes in everyday life (moving to work from home, fear of infection, or being able to attend family gatherings, etc.) predispose us to major psychological problems .

But if the conception of the profession of psychologist has changed, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of myths and ignorance about what psychotherapy is. That is why, in this article, we will address the issue of what to expect and what not to expect from psychological therapy, giving advice on how to handle the first session with the psychologist.

    What to expect from psychological therapy?

    These are the main key ideas to keep in mind when it comes to knowing what to expect from psychotherapy.

    1. Assistance is provided to understand the root of the problem

    No need to go to the first psychotherapy session knowing exactly what is causing us the discomfort we want to overcome. In fact, part of the psychotherapist’s job is to help patients answer these questions. After all, we humans don’t need the resources to know exactly what mental processes are behind our consciousness. Dialogue with the psychologist allows for progress in self-knowledge.

      2. There are more activities to do beyond the dialogue

      While the belief that psychotherapy is all about talking about our experiences and what makes us feel bad is widespread, this is a simplification. In sessions with the psychologist, it’s not all about talking or talking.

      We have a clear example in the sessions where patients are helped to overcome their irrational fears; in such cases, situations are created in which the person must expose himself to what he fears, either through exercises of the vivid imagination, by using real phobic stimuli or even with the use of tools of virtual reality.

        3. Consistency is important

        Psychotherapy is more than each meeting with the therapist separately. These meetings are the backbone of a process, and what we do between sessions is very important. This is why psychologists almost always order “homework” to be done on a daily basis; for example, one of the most common activities is completing an emotion diary or self-recording.

          4. There is always a specific goal

          While the problem that the patient has to overcome may be based on abstract thoughts that are difficult to define in a few words, the psychologist always proposes a precise therapeutic objective, an objective to be achieved, although it never imposes it unilaterally and must be agreed with the patient.

          This reference will be used to know if the therapeutic process is progressing at a good pace, and it is also a support so that the person who goes to the psychologist is aware of his progress and that it is easier for him to motivate himself.

            4. The collaboration of the family is sought

            When possible, in psychotherapy try to have the collaboration of people in the patient’s family environment, while always respecting the confidentiality applied to what the person reveals about himself during the sessions. In this way, we try that the people that the patient sees in his daily life allow him to progress more easily and to achieve the therapeutic goal.

            And what not to expect?

            Now that we’ve seen the key ideas about what psychotherapy is, it’s time to dispel some myths about it. What are the things that you will not find in consulting a psychologist specializing in psychotherapy?

            1. No psychotropic drug is prescribed

            Psychotherapy is part of the field of mental health, but it does not mean that it is encompassed in medicine. The psychologist’s activity does not start from the biomedical approach and does not assume that the problems have their origin in mainly organic dysfunctions of the nervous system in general or of the brain in particular.

            Although it shares certain characteristics with the profession of psychiatrist (which is a doctor), throughout the psychotherapy sessions, the emphasis is placed on the management of behaviors and the management of emotions and thoughts, without seeking to modify the psychotherapy. functioning of body parts.

            In Spain, psychologists are not allowed to prescribe drugs. But if at any time the therapist deems it necessary, he can recommend going first to the psychiatrist in order, through pharmacology, to stabilize the patient before approaching the psychotherapy sessions.

              2. No advice is given on how to live life

              Psychotherapy is very different from the self-help books and spiritual “gurus” talks that can be found on the Internet. In reality, its raison d’être is that there is no instruction manual for living life in a happy way, since each person is unique and so is their situation; for this reason, it is necessary to provide personalized support and with prior analysis of the problem affecting the patient or the need he seeks to satisfy.

              Thus, psychotherapy should be understood as an emotional and behavioral training program adapted to the individual, couple or family participating in the consultation. In the work of the psychologist, there is not a single form of intervention. “A priori” all decisions are taken by consensus and after an exploration of what led the person to go for consultation.

                3. No “cure” is instantly offered

                It is totally impossible to overcome a psychological problem in one session of psychotherapy. The activity carried out in psychological therapy is a complete process which includes gradual changes, in which a series of habits and thought routines must be changed. To ensure that the changes are better consolidated and remain stable over time, it is important to be consistent, to attend sessions regularly and to carry out activities between one meeting with the psychologist and the next.

                4. There is no possibility to delete memories or feelings

                Psychotherapy offers tools and solutions based on the acceptance of what happened: it does not provide a constant feeling of happiness, but the ability to maintain a correct quality of life based on emotional balance. In fact, many of the problems that cause people to need psychotherapeutic support are attempts to remove the discomfort altogether.

                  Are you looking for psychotherapeutic support services?

                  If you are interested in undertaking a psychological therapy process, we invite you to contact us.

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