Some time ago, I decided to visit a therapist. For the longest time, I have been emphasizing the need to talk about mental health and give others the space to deal with their problems. That process also involves seeking professional help and I decided to get it myself to see if therapy actually helps a person or not.
Having no background knowledge on how to go about it – I decided to research a bit. I found out that many private practitioners have opened up therapy places – the most common of which is the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs, and attitudes that are held (a person’s cognitive processes) and how these processes relate to the way a person behaves, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.
This kind of therapy usually takes place over a course of five to ten months. The person mostly attends a session per week, as suggested by the therapist
The session lasts for about fifty minutes. During this meeting, the person and the therapist go over the problems affecting the person involved and try and come up with behavioral patterns which will help improve the lifestyle and mental health.
CBT is a mix of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy
Psychotherapy focuses on exploring the childhood of the person to see what has shaped his/her ideas and to try and resolve that tension. Behavioral therapy, on the other hand, focuses on understanding the link between a person’s thoughts and his behavior. The therapist then comes up with a unique set of rules and principles to help resolve the mental health problems. The technique is customized according to the needs of each individual.
This is a very personalized experience and has helped many individuals. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before seeking help
Make sure you know your therapist well – this means having background knowledge on how qualified the person is. This does not have to be done by launching an investigation but just asking around and also talking to the therapist.
It is not necessary that you will get along with every therapist. Ensure that you are very comfortable with the person who is your therapist and then move towards exploring your problems. Understand that the therapist is not there to provide solutions, rather a guideline. You are a complete person on your own and very much capable of making your own choices. Do not start this dependency relationship with your therapist because that will not you attain your goal – which is a better mental health.
Always understand that at the end of the day, you know yourself better than anyone. It is only you who can cure yourself, your therapist will only provide the necessary push. If you disagree with your therapist, let that be known and tell your therapist however you are comfortable in talking about your issues. And read up on your problems to get a better understanding of what goes on in your body when you experience something. That inculcates a sense of control and understanding.
It is also important to keep a track of your progress
There are a few ways of doing it. You can keep a journal or record voices notes for yourself. These are ways in which one can always go back to what was discussed earlier and build on it.
Due to the lack of awareness regarding mental health issues, many Pakistanis refrain from seeking help. The environment is such that neither parents nor the friends and teachers talk about how an individual’s experiences can impact their mental health. And we are not just talking about out of the ordinary – extremely harsh – circumstances but also the little things; like losing friends, not getting the expected grades, and not having the space to decide some personal matters on your own. A lifetime of these restrictions can make one’s life very suffocating – many end up having this strong persona where asking for help becomes impossible because of the constant facade of strength and the lack of help being offered.
Zahbia Sarfaraz is a mental health counselor and according to her two people experiencing the same stressful event will not respond in the same way
One might find it difficult to function while the other might be able to move on without experiencing any difficulty. Example of a trigger might be a traumatic event, such as loss of a loved one.
What this means is that due to the popular belief that because we were able to deal with a situation smoothly, everyone else should as well. This is the basis of injustice we impose on someone who might not be dealing with the situation like we’d want them to. Each individual is different and has different sensitivities, and it is very important to respect that.
Omar Tauseef is a psychotherapist and trainer working in Lahore, and according to him some disorders are triggered by genes, others are a result of the environment and circumstances
Some of the most prevalent issues here are depression, anxiety, trauma, adjustment issues, anger management, stress management, grief, and loss.
While the discussion regarding mental health is slowly becoming a little less taboo but not many people know whom to contact when they have no door to knock on for help
For all of you out there, who do not know where to go – therapy is a good option. Find out therapists around you and get help because there is nothing wrong with it. And therapy actually helps because the self awareness you get out of it can help you for a lifetime. These are things which we neither learn at school or at home, so it is important to understand your emotions and the way to deal with them.
cover image via indianexpress