Change in Therapy: Part II
As mentioned in the previous post, individuals often decide to start therapy out of a desire to make a change or adapt to a change that has occurred in their lives. It is not uncommon for some individuals to find themselves in therapy because they themselves do not believe that they have a problem, but it is others who have pointed out concerns.
Some people also share that they are wanting to learn ways of how to bring about change in other people- change how others treat them, talk to them or perceive them.
What to Change
At the very beginning stages of change, it is important to recognize that if we do not accept a problem as our own, it is going to be very difficult to make a change that will directly impact those circumstances. So a first step when one is considering therapy is considering what to share in therapy, it may be important to identify what is a problem for you. Questions you might ask yourself in order to gain insight into your core concerns:
- What is important to me right now? (List 2-3 values)
- What do I believe is getting in the way of living the life that I would like to live right now?
- What are some ways that I have been coping with these obstacles?
- How effective have I been at managing my emotions in relation to these obstacles?
- What do I believe is necessary in order to change this situation?
- How hopeful am I that this situation, circumstance, behavior, thought or intensity of emotion can be changed?
- What have I accepted is outside of my control?
- What are the pros and cons of not making a change/staying the same?
- What are the pros and cons of changing my thoughts, emotional intensity, or behaviors?
- Is my goal for therapy realistic in terms of timing, specificity, relevance to the current situation?
It is important to be honest with yourself and your therapist in portraying the image that you have in your mind about what change looks like and feels like- can you envision yourself having made the change necessary or do you experience some ambivalence about making a change that may be unfamiliar to you?
Please know that there is no shame in your process of change as it is different for everyone and not a linear process. However, it is important to manage our expectations for how long change will take based on our readiness and willingness to move forward.
Why is it Hard to Change?
Why is change or even thinking about making a change more difficult than anticipated? To change means to intentionally make a choice to disrupt, perhaps, familiar or comfortable patterns of behavior (although not necessarily healthy or life-affirming patterns).
To choose to do something unfamiliar and uncomfortable is scary, even terrifying for some as it may induce feelings of shame in not knowing how to do something, not believing we are capable of doing something or even not believing that we deserve the change.
Change can bring about a fear of failure if one believes that they are needing to get everything done right the first time they try something different. Change can be a risk and that is why it is not unusual for individuals to have insight into their problems but struggle to proactively change the situations that they are in and patterns of behaviors.
Develop Goals for Change in Therapy
If you are ready and understand the direction that you want to take, which is often outlined by the values that we identify, it is important to develop your goals further by identifying clear action steps. What is it that you can decide to do that will help you either accept further the situation that you are in or make a change to improve the situation or mitigate the negative impact that the problem is having in your life?
How Therapy Helps
Our goal in the therapeutic process is to increase self-awareness and self-empowerment through the exploration of the problems and issues that are connected to mood symptoms, anxiety symptoms and feelings of overwhelm, stress and being stuck. To make a change requires a commitment and that commitment often comes from this inner knowledge of one’s desires, passions and hopes.
There are experiences in our lives, losses and gains, that are more often than not outside of our control. That does not mean that we have to define our identities as victims to life’s happenings. Rather we have the power to decide how we react, how intensely we feel something, how we perceive the situation in front of us.
We deserve the autonomy and power to make our own choices and in those choices come infinite possibilities and chances to learn, grow and transform our way of being.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you make the changes you need to make in order to move forward positively in your life, give us a call or send an email: 908-857-4422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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