What I’ve learned through therapy.
2020 has been… Honestly, I don’t even know how to sum it up in an eloquent way. Pandemic. Civil Rights Movement. Record Unemployment. Turbulent Election. Natural and Human-made disasters. One things after another, after another. It has been exhausting and we have all been affected in different ways and to varying degrees.
Now, more then ever before, I’m understanding the necessity of personal wellness.
I’ve always believed in my right to take care of myself. In my eyes, self-care is not wasteful, unnecessary, or self-indulgent. For many years now I have prioritized good sleep, nutritious food, and moving my body daily. These habits have stayed with me during good times and bad, high points and low.
I did, however, introduce one new wellness habit this year. I found myself a therapist.
Before I dive in – Therapy is a deeply personal practice and writing about it publicly is difficult. But there is a stigma around therapy, at least in the US, that I want to do my part to dismantle. So here goes.
I requested a therapist in September of 2019 and had my first appointment in February of 2020. We made it through two sessions face-to-face before Covid-19 forced us to make our appointments virtual.
While this was not my first time going to therapy, this was my first time going consistently. We meet once a week for an hour for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (read more on CBT here). In CBT, there is a focus on “homework”, or reflection outside of the session, so the work continues past the one-hour mark each week.
Therapy has given me a safe space. I have a reliable and protected place to share my fears, stressors, frustrations, musings, and joy. And this place is all my own.
My therapist plays many roles in my life. I have a cheerleader, someone that is dedicated to my success and goal achievement. I have someone who listens to me completely and without interruption. I have someone that expresses radical empathy for my pains and frustrations. And my therapist holds me accountable to myself and to the work we are doing together. I so value my therapist’s ability to hold space for me in these unique and varying ways, and often at the same time. In my life at least, there is no one else that plays a role this specialized and difficult. These are things I only get reliably from my therapist.
I have seen many changes in myself since starting therapy, both big and small. I feel a greater sense of calm. I have a lesser need for control. I am working to incorporate mindfulness into my everyday movements. I am learning to better understand what stressors elicit unwanted reactions and what resources I have at my disposal to combat those stressors.
2020 has been a record low year for many of us, myself included. While it is far from a cure-all, therapy has shaped my life in new and meaningful ways and is a wellness practice that I value deeply and will continue on with.
What are your thoughts on therapy? Let us know in the comments below.