Most people take that initial plunge into therapy with the highest of hopes. We want to make real changes in our lives. We want to be more successful. We want to be in control of our emotions. In short, we want to BE better than we are today, right at this very moment.
For therapists, it’s a requirement of their own success to ensure that they are providing treatment that will steer their patients toward a positive outcome. When they finally see that something “clicks” during treatment, it’s more than just the stereotypical light bulb coming on. It’s validation that their methods are improving their patient’s lives.
But once we start putting in all of that effort as a patient, how do we know that our hard work is paying off? Everyone likes a little positive reinforcement every now and then, right? So, let’s take a look at a few tell-tale signs that we are all moving in the right direction.
Your Relationships With Others Are Improving
As a patient progresses in their treatment, one of the first noticeable improvements is in interaction with others and how relationships are maintained. While we all experience problems at work with clashing personalities or that relative that just pushes your buttons every year during the holidays, what matters is our reaction to them.
As patients work through their therapy and discover underlying causes for not necessarily always reacting to others in the most positive of ways, then the motivation behind their actions will change. Relationships will grow stronger, which in turn, will support the overall mental health of the patient. Patients will find that they are building nurturing, positive relationships, rather than negative, destructive ones.
During this process, therapists will be able to set forth a treatment plan, focusing on relationship goals and how the patient will build new relationships and repair existing problems. This is also a time period when the therapist can see the progress that has been made with his or her techniques, especially if the patient is working with the therapist toward this outcome.
Your Overall Health Is Growing Stronger
When we are physically unhealthy, there can be many underlying reasons. You can probably think about that one person at the office who always seem to catch the latest bug that’s going around, or, no matter if it’s allergy season or not, always has the sniffles. Our mental health can most definitely be a contributing factor to how easily or often we experience illness.
However, not only can our mental health affect our susceptibility to a sickness, but it can also be an underlying cause. The New York Times recently published a post that discusses how mental health disorders can affect a patient’s physical health in two primary ways. Mental health conditions may mask a physical ailment with depression or anxiety, not allowing the clinician to give the proper diagnosis, or they can actually be the direct cause of the ailment.
A therapist or other mental health professional can research these issues and determine whether a psychological problem is in fact a primary cause for a patient’s condition, or if it could be a side effect of a physical illness. As the patient’s physical health strengthens, the therapist and primary care physician can often work hand-in-hand to determine a course of treatment that benefits both conditions. Integrated care is so instrumental in the healthcare realm.
You Are Taking Responsibility for Your Actions
As you therapy continues, you should soon find that you no longer find it comforting to “play the blame game”. Often, when we are trying to make excuses for our own actions or our poor behavior, we tend to try to rationalize certain situations or scenarios. We can do this within our own minds, or we can express these “excuses” openly to anyone who will listen.
When we finally start admitting that there is no real rationale for a sudden burst of emotion or a day spent in bed with the covers pulled over our heads, a therapist can then begin to dig into the real reason that we are finding certain actions so difficult to take responsibility for. This can be a real process to work through, especially if this is breaking decades worth of self denial. Many therapists will implement behavioral assessments to further monitor your progress.
However, in the end, the benefits are endless. You’ll find that you spend way more time ensuring that you make the best decisions possible, rather than clocking in hours trying to come up with reasons to offset your mistakes. Plus, you’ll even find that, after some work, this will all become second nature
You Are Clearing Up the Clutter
Therapy can work some real magic, but anyone who has ever been in a therapeutic environment knows that you have to put in the work. There has never been a better example of “you get what you put in” than your personal therapy treatment. Yet, this new take on things will begin to spread into other facets of your everyday lives as well.
Let’s look at the mind. By removing all of the things that take up space, like worries over difficult relationships or anxiety over repeated poor decision making, you can free up plenty of room for all of the important things in you life. Think of it as a bit of spring cleaning for the mind!
Your therapist will also love you when you get to this point. You will think more clear-mindedly, enabling a clinician to really understand your thought processes and better set forth a line of treatment to address your particular mental health condition.
Engagement in Your Therapy Is at an All-Time High
We have already touched a bit on the hard work that goes into making sure that your therapy leads to a positive outcome, but is it possible to actually get to the point where you look forward to learning ways to put this into motion? Absolutely! And this is a sure sign that your therapy is headed in the right direction.
The more a patient progresses into therapy, it may become more clear which techniques work and which are more of a struggle for that particular individual. Each person is different, which is why therapists are trained experts who can quickly access a situation and take action.
Specifically with the use of questionnaires and surveys that the patient can utilize from their smartphones or tablets, there are even more ways to track a patient’s progress, even after they leave the office. This opens up even more options for successful patient engagement. Plus, as the field of mental health progresses and continues to look more and more to technology to offer even more ways for patients to stay engaged in their therapy, continued interest in treatment will hopefully soon be the norm, not the exception.
Angela Ash is a professional article writer and editor, specializing in self improvement and health topics. She is also the Content Manager for Mentegram, a mental heaththcare company that has helped over 200 therapists provide better care to over 1,500 patients.