We have talked about finding a good therapist, but it’s worth talking about again. I have now been involved in mental health for almost 25 years, and I have seen lots of things over the years. There has been new diagnosis, misunderstood diagnosis, over used diagnosis, but it all boils down to the mental health profession wanting to help people function as best they can with the best quality of life. I have to respect my profession for that. I do believe that we as a profession want to help others. It’s why we went to school, but at times, the mental health profession forgets what’s most important. It forgets to listen to the patient.
I struggle with that often. I believe that people have strengths, weaknesses, and hopes, but I also believe that people, with support can figure out what will work best for them. Talking with a patient about their history, their goals, and what they would like to be different can give a therapist information to best support a patient in their journey. There are so many types of therapy now, in the world. They work for different things, and there will be more before I leave the field. The new, “state of the art” theories that people believe is the next best thing. They want to try all the new stuff and feel that it’s the answer to all the questions, but they forget to ask some of the most important questions. They forget to educate the patient about the options, and follow the patient’s lead.
One of the things I have learned over the years, is that I don’t have the answers. I can help people find the path that they need, but I don’t have any magical tricks to make them better. People can learn new skills, get information, practice skills, and make progress, but they decide when they are ready to move forward alone. They also need the option to return for support when other things come up. I have worked with some programs that told patients that they were cured, and refused to see them again. If that happens to you, find other support.
Finding someone you can trust to help you through a very difficult time is important. They should be focused on you in a session, not answering the phone or checking for text messages. They should be asking you what would be helpful, not giving you options that they feel are what you need. You should have the right to have a say in your treatment plan. You also have the right to confront you therapist if what they are doing isn’t helping you. I encourage people to let me know what’s been helpful in the past, and what hasn’t. I have patient’s that don’t want to write, or be in groups, or be seen weekly. I ask what you need, and your therapist should ask, but if they don’t speak up. Therapy isn’t supposed to last forever, and you do need to work in treatment, but if it’s not helping and your therapist won’t listen, move on.
Finding help when you are struggling is important for your future. It should help you focus, gain skills, and make changes in your life to improve the quality of your life. Make sure you are getting what you need, and not just doing what the therapist says, because you think they understand. You know yourself better than your therapist will ever know you, and they need your input to help you best. It’s all part of being happy for life, and having the life you want.