How much progress am I going to make in therapy?
I get the question all of the time from clients about how quickly they will see progress in therapy.
My answer is always the same: Therapy takes time. There’s not a magic wand and everyone is different.
That said, I can tell you what you should expect. The changes will be subtle. Are you super hard on yourself? You will notice when you’re self-critical and extend yourself some grace. Are you always overcommitted? You will find yourself having an easier time saying no. Struggling with depression? You will notice that the sinking in sadness is an emotion that comes and goes and you feel confident that better days will come or that you have the ability to help yourself through it. You struggle with toxic family relationships? You will find that you distance yourself and protect your own well-being instead of being the “good” family member.
You will notice.
As the person on the other side of the computer, I can tell you that I definitely get the best view. I see my clients blossom and let go of some of the things that are holding them back. Sometimes when my clients are so hard on themselves, I have to remind them of what they used to be like before. I notice your softer face, more confident posture, laugh that comes with ease, toxic relationships you got out of, and I get to hear about all the changes you are making. You just might not notice. My job is to help you.
I have my own therapist and have seen various therapists over the years. After moving to NYC, I learned that having a therapist was more important than knowing the best places to go out on the weekends. I hunkered down and did my work and was dedicated to the process. I most recently noticed the major change when I had to terminate with my therapist when she decided to close her therapy practice. We had been seeing each other for over 5 years. I knew bits and pieces about her, but she stayed dedicated to helping me learn about myself. It had been hard to trust that I could depend on people because of past experiences, but I learned that I could depend on her. She was always there for me every week. She held up a mirror so that I could see the things I couldn’t see in myself. It wasn’t always easy. She called me on my shit. I cried a lot. She knew what would trigger me and would remind me that I could forgive myself and always step back up to the plate to continue to engage in my life. She never, ever judged me. I knew I could tell her anything.
The day of our last therapy session, she had been delayed on a train and she came in with red and watery eyes. She told me she had been preparing for this to be our last session and was impacted by the fact that we weren’t going to see each other anymore. She cried when she was thinking about the end of our relationship.
It was the first time I noticed that I had impacted her too. In the past I would have shrugged it off as her trying to be nice but not really genuine. I also might have been hard on myself for making her so upset. God forbid should I impact anyone, especially my therapist. She showed me vulnerability. I was able to deal with what was in front of me and be vulnerable back. That was something I had worked years on to do.
Through my tears I told her that I had valued our work so much together and that I was able to have deeper relationships with my partner, my kids, and my friends because I was able to have one with her. I severed relationships that were not serving me and put my own wellbeing first. I learned that was the only way that I could be impactful in my own life. I started to notice that I was impactful as a mother, partner, therapist, and community member. She saw that and pushed me to see it for myself.
Gulp. There it was, I had learned to do the thing I had been struggling to do for years.
That’s kind of how it happens. This is not to say it’s going to take you years or even months in therapy, but sometimes the changes are so subtle yet so major. You just can’t see them sometimes. That is when your therapist takes out the mirror and shows you. I love the look of “a-ha” in my clients face. When they finally realize that they have done something they’ve been struggling to do for years or lifetimes. That’s so worth it for me and it will be worth it to you.
If this blog has spoken to you and you’d like to make an appointment, you can do so here