I received several e-mails lately asking about “THE BENEFITS OF THERAPY.”
Although I write about this subject in my book, I thought it was time to address it once again and have shared the opening paragraphs that deal with this issue below. I also asked Dr. Ivette Russo, a clinical psychologist, if she would elaborate and help those suffering from hypoglycemia by shedding light on whether to seek professional help as part of the healing process.
“You found a doctor, took the glucose tolerance test and it’s confirmed—you have reactive or functional hypoglycemia. You begin to read about your condition, follow a diet, start on a vitamin program and, to your surprise, have enough energy to begin exercising. Even though your pace and timing may be slow at first, it’s something you’ve never done before.
The severity of your symptoms starts to disappear. You’re able to function—go to work, attend school and/or handle home situations. You should be thrilled. But you’re not. You’re full of fear, guilt and anger, and the loneliness is unbearable. You cry frequently. Discussing your feelings with family and friends only makes matters worse. Too often you hear remarks such as, ‘You should be grateful you only have hypoglycemia. Luckily, it’s not cancer or a disease you could die from.’ No, hypoglycemia will not kill you but, according to Dr. Harvey Ross, in his book Hypoglycemia, The Disease Your Doctor Won’t Treat, it’s a disease that will make you wish you were dead.
“Is there anything you can do? Yes. Maybe it’s time to consider psychotherapy.”
Are You Ready to Make a Change?
By Ivette Russo, Psy.D.
We often think that admitting we are struggling is a sign of weakness, but we all struggle sometimes. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. We all need help sometimes. Maybe you have already tried several avenues to deal with your problems. You have read tons of self-help books, signed up for a few seminars or support groups, you eat right and exercise, but none of these methods brought relief. You may have even tried speaking to a friend or a family member about how you are feeling. However, a friend or family member is more likely to offer his/her opinions throughout your conversation, which can lead you to feel frustrated, angry, and unheard. Yet ultimately, a friend or family member is unable to be objective because they have an investment in the relationship. So, now what? “Maybe it’s time to consider psychotherapy.”
All of the above methods can add extra support, and it can be very helpful to talk about your problems to close friends and family members. But sometimes we need help that the people around us are not able to provide. When you need extra support, an outside perspective, or some expert guidance, talking to a professional can help. While the support of friends and family is important, speaking with a professional is different. Psychologists who specialize in psychotherapy and other forms of psychological treatment are highly trained professionals with expertise in the areas of human behavior, mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and behavior change. Psychologists work with you to change your feelings and attitudes and help you to develop healthier, more effective patterns of behavior. Furthermore, psychotherapy is a collaborative effort between you and the psychologist. It provides a supportive environment to talk openly and confidentially about concerns and feelings. Psychologists consider maintaining your confidentiality extremely important and will answer your questions regarding those rare circumstances when confidential information must be shared.
“Okay,” you say, so “What can I expect from therapy?” Every psychologist is different and may have a different approach in the way they do therapy, yet there are similarities to how the therapy is actually structured. Therapy sessions usually last about an hour and can be scheduled once a week, perhaps more often for more intensive therapy. Psychologists normally conduct therapy in their offices, but they also work in hospitals and nursing homes and, in some cases, will do home visits. Furthermore:
- Expect a good fit between you and your psychologist. Don’t settle for a bad fit. You may need to see more than one therapist until you experience feeling understood and accepted.
- Therapy is a partnership. Both you and your psychologist contribute to the healing process. You’re not expected to do the work of recovery all by yourself, but your psychologist can’t do it for you either. Therapy should feel like a working alliance.
- Therapy will not always feel pleasant. Painful memories, frustrations or feelings might surface. This is a normal part of therapy, and your psychologist will guide you through this process. Be sure to communicate with her/him about how you are feeling.
- Therapy should be a safe place. While there will be times when you’ll feel challenged or when you’re facing unpleasant feelings, you should always feel safe. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or you’re dreading your therapy sessions, talk to your psychologist.
You should be able to tell within a few sessions whether you and your psychologist are a good fit. Yet, there is no smooth, fast road to the healing process. It is a process that’s full of twists, turns, and the occasional backtrack. Sometimes, what originally seemed like a straightforward problem turns into a more complicated issue. Be patient and don’t get discouraged over temporary setbacks. It’s not easy to break old, entrenched patterns. Remember that growth is difficult, and you won’t be a new person overnight. Nevertheless, you should notice positive changes in your life. Your overall mood might be improving, for example. You may feel more connected to family and friends. Or a crisis that might have overwhelmed you in the past doesn’t throw you as much this time. Following is a list of questions that can help you in evaluating your progress in therapy:
- Is your life changing for the better? Look at different parts of your life: work, home, your social life.
- Is your mood improving?
- Are you meeting the goals you and your therapist have set?
- Is therapy challenging you? Is it stretching you beyond your comfort zone?
- Do you feel like you’re starting to understand yourself better?
- Do you feel more confident and empowered?
- Are your relationships improving?
In the end, it is ultimately your decision whether you are to make a change and enter into therapy. And if you do, it is a sign of your strength and determination. You have already been doing the hard work of self development and improving your overall well-being. This would just be one more step on your journey. As Joshua Marine once said, “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
To find a psychologist, ask your physician or another health professional. Call your local or state psychological association. Consult a local university or college department of psychology. Ask family and friends. Contact your area community mental health center. Inquire at your church or synagogue. Or, use the American Psychological Association’s psychologist locator service http://locator.apa.org/. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 786-548-1096.
Thank you Dr. Russo – she can be reached at email@example.com or 786-548-1096.
Here’s to your health,