Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Therapy for all (Part-1)

Therapy for all (Part-1)

It’s never a bad time to reach out. Old or young, sad or happy, you don’t need a big reason to start therapy. 

If you are looking to start therapy, there are many options available. Some approaches work for specific situations while some approaches are able to cast a wider net. You need to make sure that you work with a trained mental health professional and each session is based on the issues you’re looking to address. Therapy helps you get to the root of problems, understand situations and people better, look at things through a clearer lens. 

During the 2020 Golden Globes Awards , director Bong Joon Ho said in his acceptance speech “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

The same applies with therapy — Going through the process may be difficult but the end result is usually a happier, more fulfilling life.

Therapist vs. Psychiatrist —

Let’s start with the basics. Therapists and psychiatrists both aim to treat mental health conditions and improve emotional well-being but there are key differences to their approaches. 

Therapists include psychologists, social workers and counsellors. Their aim is to help people manage their emotions, build healthier relationships and understand themselves better. They use talk therapy and behaviour modification methods to make positive changes in people’s lives.

Psychiatrists on the other hand are medical doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication to people to treat symptoms and who need medication to help treat them.

You are never ‘too old’ to start therapy —

Ageing changes you. Physically, mentally and emotionally. Midlife and senior citizen life bring both loss and liberation. Just know that you don’t have to cope with these tectonic changes on your own. A good therapist is all you need. Therapy is powerful and transformative at any age. Here’s how… 

Therapy can equip you to deal with change —

As we age, our body goes through changes as well. Starting with our fluctuating hormones. 

When oestrogen, testosterone, and other hormone levels start to drop, it affects a lot of things like your sleep habits, sex drive, muscle tone, skin texture. Your physical capabilities start to deteriorate, injuries and illness become more common. Apart from these physical changes, emotional and mental changes are big as well. 

Relationships undergo big changes, you may become a caregiver for a spouse or older parents, you may be divorced with an empty nest or a widow/widower which may mean adjusting to life on your own after many years as  a couple. Change is difficult, but anybody can adapt if they really want to. 

In a period of change  working with a therapist can help you figure out what you want and need, learn to trust your own judgement, navigate unfamiliar territory and come to terms with life. It gives you the greatest gift of all- acceptance. 

Therapy can create space to explore new identities and make new connections —

Major transitions are part of life. Retirement, an empty nest or the inability to do things you once could can destabilise your sense of self. Feeling disorientated by these changes is not uncommon, living in the “in-between” phase between identities can be uncomfortable. Enter therapy. Therapy can give you a sense of direction as you work on ways to redefine yourself. It gives you the tools to make new connections with other people. A therapist can give you permission to re-evaluate your life and get clear about your options, an unbiased source of validation, support, and compassion during this tumultuous time of change. 

Therapy can support you if you’re grieving a loss —

Loss can happen at any age and stage of life. But the longer you live, the greater the odds of you facing a significant loss. It need not be death, it could be children growing up and moving out of the house, friends moving away, loss of a pet or loved ones passing away. Important and meaningful relationships and phases of your life tend to draw to a natural close. Unfortunately, the gut wrenching feeling of grief is unavoidable. A good therapist will support you and help you process sorrow and regret in a positive and constructive way.

Therapy can be especially beneficial in dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19 —

We’ve been living through uncharted territory for the last three years. These unprecedented times since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have seen a drastic rise in mental health conditions and the need for therapy. People are unsure, scared, worried, numb and some don’t even know what to feel. We have seen the world be brought to its knees, seen death and loss like no other, experienced pangs of loneliness at a stretch and so many missed opportunities. Dealing with all of this at once can be overwhelming to say the least. Even if you didn’t lose anyone close to you, you might be grieving for other reasons like a missed opportunity, a lost job or just life as we knew it. Grieving takes time. While things are slowly returning to “normal” it is going to take a while to recover from everything that has transpired. 

There are lots of reasons to start therapy, and all of them are equally valid —

Yes, people might be most inclined to reach out to a therapist when they’re in crisis or during stressful life events. But the definition of “stressful life event” is a little different for everyone. We all have unique triggers and life experiences. For example, seeking therapy after the loss of my dog got me more than one raised eyebrow from people I told. It’s also OK to start therapy just because you think you need a little extra help, even if you’re not sure why. Plenty of people do come to therapy to understand themselves better, to work through areas that are more difficult, and to improve their ability to thrive and cope with adversity.

Conclusion —

It is okay to not feel okay. As we age, we tend to develop a better understanding of the world around us and even ourselves but that doesn’t make us invincible to change. 

Whether you’re coping with grief, trauma, relationship issues, change or you just need someone to vent, finding a helpful therapist can make a big difference in your journey.

“I can’t see a way through,” said the boy, 

“Can you see the next step?”

“Yes”

“Just take that,” said the horse.

Quote taken from the book-  The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.

The thought of going to therapy might be a hard pill to swallow, but just take it one step at a time. Scheduling an appointment is a great start and take it from there. 

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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