By Kamna Chhibber
As you ponder over starting therapy you are likely to reflect upon a number of variables – the finances, availability of time, finding the right person, and so on. The one variable most people forget to look at is their own selves. In fact you as the person seeking therapy are as critical to the process as is the person you are going to enter therapy with. Your emotional and psychological readiness to introspect, analyse, understand and problem solve are key factors that are critical to the success of therapy.
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So before you begin to attempt determining who to go to and what approach may work best for you it is crucial you understand whether you are ready for therapy or not. Undertaking therapy can be tricky and brings forth aspects that you may or may not be ready to look at.
In fact, resistance to change is a big barrier that makes therapy rather difficult to engage in for many. Even though resistance cannot be removed in its entirety and it would keep re-entering the therapeutic process, it would nevertheless be helpful if you start off at a point where you are ready for introspection and receptive to change. Being pushed and coerced by friends or family to seek support and help with a therapist is not going to be enough for therapy to be a fruitful endeavour.
Determining your readiness for therapy is not easy. But there are some parameters that can be beneficial in making a judgment for your own self. Let’s take a look at some of the questions you can ask yourself to judge if you are ready to engage with a therapist:
- Do you recognise that you are struggling? –Your recognition of your struggles is a prerequisite to seeking help and being in therapy. If you do not believe that you are experiencing a struggle in the situations of your life, in managing your thoughts, emotions or your reactions then therapy will not be effective. The opinion that others may hold about how you are not coping well or need help and support lose relevance if you don’t experience and believe in the same.
- Are you open to listen to another person? – The journey of being in therapy is a very personal experience and is exceptionally challenging. The success of therapy is, to a large extent, contingent upon your openness to listen to the therapists’ insights, understanding and perspectives. This does not indicate that you need to be in agreement with everything a therapist may have to state and share. However, you need to maintain a stance of receptivity and be open to listen and honestly evaluate what is being suggested.
- Are you willing to accept feedback? – Being in therapy would involve taking feedback about your approach, actions and perspectives. This feedback can involve both validation for who you are and what you do as well as information about aspects you need to change and may not be most helpful to you in working through the situations or relationships in your life. Some things that are shared may resonate more easily with you than others do. The difficult things that come your way which you need to acknowledge, assess and implement will test your readiness for acceptance of feedback. This is ultimately also linked to your readiness for therapy.
- Do you think you are willing to engage in honest self-reflection? – There are parts of the self that people hide from their own conscious awareness as these are difficult to accept, manage and integrate into our views of who we are. If you are considering getting in to therapy then you need to assess your ability for honest self-reflection. This is critically tied to what you will be able to achieve in therapy with your therapist as (s)he will be able to work with you only on the things that you bring in conversations. Honest self-reflection and analysis are a must for the success of therapy and for you to be able to derive the maximum from the therapeutic process.
- Do you feel you are ready for some change? – The idea of bringing about a change sounds glamorous and excites many. However, embarking upon any change process is rather challenging. It requires you to shift your ways of thinking, feeling, responding, understanding, your worldviews, your belief systems and this is not an easy process. You will falter and you will fail and you will need to be ready to pick yourself up each time you stumble. Each time you embark upon the change process despite the challenges you face it increases the effectiveness of therapy.
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Therapy is helpful for those who enter it knowing the commitment and perseverance they will have to demonstrate in order to maintain the efficacy and effectiveness of the process. There are variables beyond what we have discussed above that are critical to the success of therapy which have been discussed across other blogs previously. However, these aspects about the self are rather important and need to be given sufficient consideration to ensure that you are able to derive the most out of the therapeutic process.
Views expressed are personal. The Health Collective cannot substitute for expert advice from a trained mental health expert. Reach out for help: Do check for resources available across India.
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