Oftentimes when we are working the steps of recovery, the experiences we have gone through in our lives (some of which started us using in the first place) become more prevalent in our mind and day-to-day activities. Having to admit and accept the actions that have led us into addiction and feeling the shame and anger can be overwhelming to deal with. So how do we deal with it? Sure, we mostly talk about them at our meetings, but what if that isn’t enough or it is too private to discuss in such a public setting?
If this is the case for you, working with a good psychotherapist can help you get to the heart of the matter.
Basics of Psychotherapy
The medical definition for psychotherapy is “any alteration in an individual's interpersonal environment, relationships, or life situation brought about especially by a qualified therapist and intended to have the effect of alleviating symptoms of mental or emotional disturbance”. In other words, psychotherapy is used to heal mental or emotional illnesses using talk therapy instead of medicine or drugs.
To be clear, this is not the same as having a good sit down and cry with your best friend or approaching the person who is stressing you out and telling them off. This is making regular appointments with a trained professional who will ask you questions, help you face some of your own demons and give you constructive and successful ways to deal with your thoughts and feelings. The individual will also instruct you in effective ways to communicate with people who you are having trouble with. Through this process, you will gain new insight into your own personality.
A trustworthy professional can teach you tools on how to better cope with family of origin issues, depression, or why certain people in your life behave the way they do or influence your behavior. The safety of a private setting is especially helpful in dealing with very private matters such as personal traumafrom sexual and mental abuse, living in a home where the abuser still lives, or dealing with someone else’s use while you are trying to work your steps.
How It Works
Trust is truly difficult for people in recovery and to go to a therapy session telling someone you have never met the most private things about yourself can be very hard. But the first session or two is mostly about you getting to know each other and letting the therapist know what is needed to begin your process of mental healing. These first few visits are also a way for you to discern if this is the right counselor for you.
Everyone has a different method of care so think about how you feel with this person. Are you comfortable? Do you feel heard? Do you prefer talking with a man or a woman? You want to be successful and there is no magic wand to cast a healing spell so make sure you are happy in this place of healing. Be sure to tell them exactly why you are there and ask questions about their course of action for you. This is your recovery so be as involved in it here as you would in any other area.
Finding a psychotherapist whom you trust is very important because he or she will ask you questions about your past and the people in your life. It is fine to ease into the relationship slow and, as you feel comfortable, divulge more and more. A good therapist will know this to be true and help you feel more secure at each visit. And, just like any other relationship, the longer you get to know each other, the better the outcome will be.
If you do this for yourself, a flourishing relationship can develop that may last a lifetime. The first step is to know and admit to yourself that you need additional help. We all have times of more success and times of not so much and if you have a well-founded experience with a psychotherapist, over time, you can return to the same person whenever you think it is necessary and they will know just what is needed to help you.
1. "Psychotherapy." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.