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New to Therapy and Want to Know what to Expect

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New to Therapy and Want to Know what to Expect

Postby LilyITV » Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:47 pm

I am new to therapy and am kind of confused about the process and what will happen.

My backstory: Since I was very young, I have been shy and withdrawn. I tend to avoid most social situations though I enjoy them sometimes. Sometimes I really fear/feel really uncomfortable in social situations. I can push through when I really want to, but my default seems to be to stay to myself. People seem to like me when I do interact but I feel terribly self conscious and have difficulty opening up to people. People often say I am literally the "quietest person they have ever met." I have virtually no friends and even with my husband and father, I have difficulty sharing my feelings. This behavior has held me back socially and profesionally.

I've had modest success academically and in my professional life. After a long-term unhealthy off-and-on relationship, I managed to get married and have two kids. I have long wondered whether I have social anxiety disorder or whether I'm just an introvert. So it's been easy for me to just proceed as if nothing is wrong but now at almost 44, I'm realizing that this is not who I am and I do need help to live life to my fullest. I dont' think I can call my parents abusive but my dad was extremely controlling and used what some may think is excessive corporal punishment. Both parents neglected my emotional needs and sometimes even punished me for displaying any kind of emotion. They loved me dearly though and I love them.

I took the plunge to see a therapist just recently. I went to get help with dealing with the stress of suddenly becoming a full-time stepmother. In that process I established a really good rapport with my therapist and now here I am dealing with my own issues.

The first session she asked me about my week and how I felt about it and after stumbling around I realized I couldn't remember anything about what happened in my week. She asked me about how any feelings I had during the week and I had difficulty coming up with any. She pulled out a wheel that had what seemed like a hundred different emotions to help me. All of the emotions I pointed to were all negative and I started crying and I didn't know why--in a lot of my sessions I have found myself crying for no real reason. Then we started talking more about things in my childhood and by the end we were talking about how withdrawn I am at work and how to change that. My "homework" is to pay attention to how often I want to socialize with others, as opposed to how often *I should* socialize with others.

I'm looking forward to going back and I feel relieved that I'm finally seeking help. I trust my therapist but I have no idea what I can expect to happen next. How many sessions until you get a formal diagnosis? Will I be in therapy for years and years or is there an end date??
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Re: New to Therapy and Want to Know what to Expect

Postby Wally58 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:08 pm

Welcome. My therapist had me keep a journal or diary to write down my impressions of events, because my mind often went blank. If I wasn't 'in the moment', like you I could not remember. I believe that it was because of just being 'overwhelmed' most of the time.

This is likely an 'assessment' or evaluation stage where you and the therapist get to know each-other better. Once the therapist gets more information about your needs, she will likely draw up a 'treatment plan'. She will likely go over the treatment plan with you to make sure that you agree with it.
I was asked at each session if I had any desire to harm myself. (No). I think that they have to ask that.
I was also tried on different medications to find the correct dosage and class of drugs. They were mild and did not interfere with my other functions. The benefits were apparent, not right away, but gradually.

Therapy should only be for as long as you need it. It should be voluntary. I think that my sessions varied from every 2 weeks when I first started to every 2 months when I was more stable. I checked back in with the therapist every few months for medication refills for a while longer. Then I was able to have them called in.
I continue on in an anonymous 12-step program for support as I need it.
I'm glad that you are doing something good for yourself.
Best of luck to you. :D
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Re: New to Therapy and Want to Know what to Expect

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:32 am

LilyITV wrote:my dad was extremely controlling and used what some may think is excessive corporal punishment. Both parents neglected my emotional needs and sometimes even punished me for displaying any kind of emotion. They loved me dearly though and I love them.


They loved you dearly? By neglecting your needs, physically hurting you, and punishing you for being human and having feelings?

LilyITV wrote:The first session she asked me about my week and how I felt about it and after stumbling around I realized I couldn't remember anything about what happened in my week. She asked me about how any feelings I had during the week and I had difficulty coming up with any. She pulled out a wheel that had what seemed like a hundred different emotions to help me. All of the emotions I pointed to were all negative and I started crying and I didn't know why--in a lot of my sessions I have found myself crying for no real reason.


This sounds a lot like dissociation, which is very common in people with early and prolonged childhood trauma. I hope that your therapist has some experience with dissociative disorders, in case it turns out that that's what you're dealing with. They are very tricky to treat and require someone with knowledge and experience (although a good, committed therapist can educate themselves and find someone to consult with). Good for you for taking this step!
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Re: New to Therapy and Want to Know what to Expect

Postby LilyITV » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:31 pm

Thanks so much for the responses Wally58 and the GangsAllHere! Very helpful!!

Since I last posted, I've been to two sessions and I've gotten homework after each one. At each session, we start off talking about my week and then it kind of goes from there. We spend time talking about how I was raised and then we move on to strategies for improving my life. I'm going once a week.

I still don't have a diagnosis, but I guess it's still early. Should I ask for one? I'm kind of scared to know what it is at this point in time, but at the same time, I am very curious. She makes references to trauma so I know I must have a diagnosis or she is working on one. I kind of would like a road map but at the same time, not sure if I really handle knowing right now.


GangsAllHere, yes, I guess my parents do not sound very loving. Perhaps I should say that they loved me the way they knew how. It is dawning on me that my upbringing was not entirely normal, but yet I still feel a need to defend it.
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