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Therapy is a relationship

Here’s the thing about relationships - just like humans, they too come with their own set of idiosyncrasies. Don’t believe us? Try being the same person with everyone, and see the aftermath. A very minute group of people will react the same way. Some of them will give you reactions you never saw coming. Some of them won’t react at all. And in doing so, you realize that relationships are, after all, human, if we may. Moreover, just like a human waters a plant, you need to know just exactly how much to water or not water your relationships. Gauging them is the key to keeping them strong and intact.

A therapist is someone you look to for professional advice and treatment on your mental health. But more often than not, they will always remind you that they will treat you like a friend, citing the same nourishment and concentrated care you would receive when a friend finds you in distress. But then again, not all your friendships are the same. They all need the aforementioned gauging and understanding to ensure longevity. Along parallel lines, your therapist and you share a relationship that needs to be understood well - are you conversing in a professional capacity? Are you allowed the conversational liberties a friendship provides? Where does the line draw itself?

1) Not all therapists will end up being a good match for all clients.

All therapists have their own traits and methods that suit some clients well, but not all. Understanding whether your therapist is the right fit for you can go a long way in improving your outcomes and your progression in therapy sessions.

2) Finding a common ground with your therapist at the very beginning is crucial.

Your therapist may be radically different from you in terms of their personality, but that should never come in the way of your therapy session experience. Finding that common ground in terms of views and approaches is immensely important, as being on the same page makes it easier to understand, analyze and infer from a session of therapy. A mismatch of ideologies would almost certainly lead to conflict and friction.

3) Therapists, by their very nature, are thought of as approachable human beings, and rightly so.

You find it easier to open your arms and welcome them into your mind and world, than any other stranger. But not all of us are built the same. Introversion, the fear of opening up, vulnerability and trust issues - these are just a handful of factors that differ from human to human. And these are the very factors that decide how freely you can speak to someone. Building those walls of faith and a seamless rapport with your therapist is a time-consuming process, but is vital to your progress. You must be able to talk to them freely about anything and everything - without a fear of judgement. If you find yourself having to tiptoe around them even after you’ve built a rapport, there still lies a need to work on that rapport and your level of comfort around them.

4) The point of spending all those hours with your therapist is for them to find the right keys to unlock the pressures of your mind.

And this, as a fundamental process of mental health recovery, is not easy. It will not always be a sweet walk in the park, with soft words of care being passed around. It needs to be challenging and intrusive at its own pace. And a lack of that should tell you that maybe your therapist isn’t the right fit for you - the metaphorical “square peg in a round hole”. Your therapist should have that balance between knowing when to comfort you and when to crucify you. Too much of comfort and there’s no access to the deeper lying issues. Too much of crucifixion and the ease with which you open up to them is lost. Think of it as a restaurant quality dish - get the balance between the flavours right, and we’re all in for a great meal!

5) The need for cognizance and feedback is underrated when it comes to the relationship you share with your therapist.

When you look at the finer print, you might realize that your therapist is in front of you but isn’t exactly with you at every step. And this loss of wavelength could be potentially harmful. Making sure that they are aware of you and your mental standpoint at all times is important, as is the need to ensure that they are making you aware of their presence and being mindful of your needs. This includes allowing you to speak without interruption, the allowance of complete expression without feeling suppressed, so on and so forth. Your feedback after sessions could go a long way in helping your therapist improve as a professional, and checking back on whether they’ve inculcated those suggestions makes all the difference.

Your therapist will always want to be your friend - a shoulder on which you can rest easy and speak freely. But making sure you have the right friend to do so is what ensures that you come out of it having learnt something and having gained mental stability and peace. A better choice today will make tomorrow a much brighter place.

And remember, as always, YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Credits: Diksha Tyagi

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