If you’re a frequent reader of our blog you know in my teenage years I didn’t quite benefit from therapy. That’s because I did not play an active part in my own recovery, and expected my (lovely) therapist to do all of the work. Sadly, therapy doesn’t work that way. You must be open to dig deep into your psyche to uproot the source of unrest manifesting dangerous behaviors in your life.
It doesn’t matter what you’re going to therapy for; whether it’s addiction, self harm, anxiety, depression- or whatever it is you’re struggling with you must use your time to soul search, and relinquish the poisons you speak to yourself.
Asking questions is the ultimate way of understanding yourself and prompting reflection.
Here are seven questions I wish I would have asked my therapist.
1. How Do I Change My Behavior?
This one’s a no-brainer I completely goofed and didn’t even bother to ask! Your therapist isn’t going to have all the answers, but they’ll certainly suggest alternative means of coping. Changing one’s behavior is no simple feat, yet the process is aided in the understanding of the underlying roots of your behavior.
2. What Is the Root of My Problem(s)?
Allow your therapist to delve deep and uproot those things you would rather keep secret. It’s not supposed to be easy. These are the things driving you to harm yourself, whether that is physically or emotionally. They must be addressed at all costs, if you wish to change your behavior.
If your therapist doesn’t ask about why you perpetuate these behaviors, help her by giving you some backstory into your life. Therapists are just as human as we are, and may need you to give more of yourself, which will let them know how to approach you. (Sometimes they don’t want to start off too strong.)
3. How Do I Change the Way I Think?
In turn with changing your behavior, to change the way you think about situations will require you to remain mindful. Many do this by embracing the philosophies of mindful meditation. If you want your therapist to guide in achieving this feat, explain why you don’t like the way you think.
Maybe you’ve realized you are far too critical of others. Or perhaps you are quick to anger.
All of the small details tell your therapist more than you think- she may be able to identify a latent psychological disorder that has yet to be addressed.
I can attest to this. Explaining the abysmal emptiness and outbursts I felt lead to my diagnosis of BPD. I am undergoing treatment, and I have never felt better! I railed against going to treatment for so long, I lashed out at the people I love the most, and made my life unduly difficult to manage.
Conversely, do not simply end with “I feel depressed.” That’s a great starting point, but what makes you depressed? Is there anything you can identify as triggers, or is your depression a continual?
What emotions force you to use? Why do you use? If you haven’t given these questions a lot of thought, therapy is an excellent place to start.
4. What Is Stopping Me from Recovering?
Identifying roadblocks, physical or otherwise, is crucial to helping you shed harmful behaviors. If you don’t quite understand what is thwarting your attempts to make lasting changes in your life, go through the motions with your therapist, and see what answers you can unravel from the strings of your life together.
5. How Can I Change My Home Life to Help Me?
We forget how important our environments are in our emotional development. Don’t set yourself up for failure when you return home and the state of your environment is stagnating your recovery. Maybe your house is incredibly messy, or perhaps you have addictive substances strewn about.
Revitalizing your life must not end in therapy, you must take an active role in your entire life. Read our mini guide on How to Change Your Environment. My eBook, Holistic Healing for Drug & Alcohol Addiction, which is coming out in early 2016, has an entire section on revamping your home.
6. What Should I Focus on Instead?
Don’t forget to play to your strengths! Explore what you love, or what you’d love to accomplish. Your therapist will help you outline steps to achieve these things. Don’t knock their suggestions either. If she suggests volunteering somewhere, at least give it a shot a couple of times.
If you have something specific in mind, like becoming involved in the animal rights movement, or spreading awareness about homelessness ask her directly how to get involved. She may not have the answers right then, but you might be surprised by what she digs up for you in your next session.
7. How Do I Stop Using/Cutting/Being Anxious etc.?
Although no quick fix will help you in the long run, arm yourself with information on how to immediately arrest detrimental behavior. Having solutions and ways to cease troubling behavior is crucial, especially if it is life threatening; do not neglect to soul search and find true solution on how to remedy the emotions catalyzing your use.
A Note About Preparing for Therapy:
In my personal experience, going to therapy unprepared actually hurt me more than it helped. Instead of remedying instances of self harm, dredging up the emotions I kept bottled up-contained- hit me off-guard, leading to more self-abuse.
Implement a way to cope at home and after sessions with everything you experience with your therapist. If you’re not quite sure how to do so ask!
Do you have any suggestions I missed?