Earworm of the morning: Last Christmas, I gave you my heart the very next day you gave it away, this year to save me from tears I’ll give it to someone special… Last Christmas, I gave you my heart the very next day you gave it away, this year to save me from tears I’ll give it to someone special… (Tyler Swift version.)
The good news is that the earworms are fading and the compulsive thoughts have stopped, so far. I now have time for the mundane again. For some with OCD there is a point of anxiety when the compulsions start to disappear, however I welcome their departure – good riddance!
When I first started therapy I was so unwell and underweight that I was prepared to delve head long into it and do what ever I had to, to make it stop. I am a researcher by nature and find almost anything interesting; I was and still am curious about the way things work and I wanted to understand this phenomenon.
This is not to say that starting therapy was easy. Initially, I was even discouraged by friends and family members who were unfamiliar with the process. But I knew I needed help and I could not go on without it. Therapy is not for pussies; to go in is to draw your sword and fight the dark side and attempt to slay the dragon.
When I first started, my therapist actively engaged my thoughts and feelings and I felt better after only a few sessions. He was curious too and seemed to hold the attitude that I possessed a unique human story that he had not yet encountered and wanted to know more about.
I sometimes hear other patients complain about their therapist because they feel as though their therapist is not listening to them. They feel unchallenged or may even think the pace is out of sync with their goals. Many people just stop going and eventually consult another therapist. In a few cases this may be a good strategy, but it could also turn into a pattern of avoidance for the patient. Are they leaving because they don’t feel engaged, or because they are uncomfortable with the way their therapy is making them feel? One way to tell the difference is to talk to the therapist about it. If you feel something isn’t working, if you ever feel uncomfortable, if you have not discussed your goal then you should talk about it together.
Therapy work is sometimes monotonous with weeks of feeling no resolution, and other times it is full of laughter, or angst, or breakthrough and insight. Two steps forward and one step back; it is a terrible and challenging worthwhile dance.
There were many times I hated my therapist, but I never missed a session. On almost every drive home from therapy I muttered to myself and ruminated about the things we talked about, or I remembered things I wanted to talk about and forgot, or I talked to myself about what I wanted to discuss next time. So the work didn’t start and stop at the door of the office. Every time I went I brought a short list of five things I wanted to address. I didn’t write paragraphs but simply jotted down keywords during the week as I remembered them and did not want to forget. Sometimes we covered the list in one session and other times we never got past the first one because the digressions were fruitful or otherwise barren fields and we needed to sort it out. It is a process of learning to know yourself, your limitations and strengths, as a worthy endeavor.
How to choose a therapist (see my SOAPBOX post):
Questions to ask:
- Are you a licensed psychologist? How many years have you been practicing psychology?
- I have been feeling (anxious, tense, depressed, etc.) and I’m having problems (with my job, my marriage, eating, sleeping, etc.). What experience do you have helping people with these types of problems?
- What are your areas of expertise — for example, working with children and families?
- What kinds of treatments do you use, and have they been proven effective for dealing with my kind of problem or issue?
- What are your fees? (Fees are usually based on a 45-minute to 50-minute session.) Do you have a sliding-scale fee policy?
- What types of insurance do you accept? Will you accept direct billing to or payment from my insurance company? Are you affiliated with any managed care organizations? Do you accept Medicare or Medicaid insurance?
How to Choose a Counselor or Therapist