5. Jak probíhá psychoterapie?
You can visit a private psychologist directly after making an appointment. For a clinical psychologist you usually need a recommendation from your general practitioner. Usually you will get the recommendation easily (it is enough to provide general summary of your psychological condition).
The aim of the first session is to become acquainted with each other and specify what disturbs you, to what extent, what are your expectations from the therapy etc. Some therapists use psychological questionnaires for this purpose. The result is an agreement on the therapeutic goals.
For the client the most important thing is to realize if he or she
can talk openly with the therapist, even about topics which raise
shame, anxiety or other unpleasant feelings. The goal is not
a full disclosure during the first session, however your trust
in the therapist is a prerequisite for successful therapy.
Following topics are usually discussed during the first session:
• method and frequency of payments
• cancellation policy
• recommended frequency of sessions
• expected length and effectiveness of the therapy
• the therapist’s experience regarding your problem
Middle phase of the therapy
Psychotherapy does not work immediately. You may experience relief even after the first session, but if you aim for a sustainable change, you should be ready to meet in scope of months (with a frequency about once a week).
The middle part of the therapy, which is the longest part of the treatment, is about dealing with specific problems and finding new ways of how to deal with them. You will explore new ways of behaving and acquire new experiences. You will understand your problems better, and will learn to recognize typical patterns of your behaviour. You may grieve over your losses or the changes you went through, respectively, as you permit your suppressed feelings to surface. You will be more aware of your emotions, more able to direct and express them in a constructive way. The emphasis and content of the sessions will differ for each person, depending on what you have lived through, how you dealt with it, what are your abilities and which attitude suits you.
Also, it may be useful to make notes during a week and bring them with you for the therapy or write down important thoughts during the session.
Doubts and difficult periods
It is indeed possible to get rid of excessive anxiety or improve the quality of your relationships. However, most of these problems have been developing for a long time and therefore months or even years are usually needed for sustainable improvement.
If you are not satisfied with the progress in the psychotherapy, talk about your doubts openly with the therapist. The goal is to find the best way forward together.
It is true that getting rid of excessive anxiety may be a lighter and shorter process than freeing oneself of depression, from which you may have suffered since your youth. Also, the presence of multiple diagnosis at the same time, or having no one outside of the therapy to support you, can slow down the progress.
Rarely, therapy may have some undesirable effects, therefore your condition might get worse. The most important risk factor for this is a problematic relationship with the therapist. Therefore, it is very important to make sure at the beginning of the therapy that the therapist really suits you. If this is not the case, continue searching.
Of course, you can terminate any therapy at any time (or change the therapist), if you are dissatisfied with the course of the therapy and have serious doubts about its effectiveness.
Completion of therapy
You can recognize the successful progress of therapy by feeling better, with your problems receding and you being more in contact with your strengths. A good psychotherapist does not work with clients longer than is necessary.
Ending therapy also means saying goodbye. The psychotherapist probably will have been for us for some time an important person and you may see the conclusion of the therapy as a loss. It is good to talk about it during the last sessions and examine the feelings or memories it raises in you.
Also, there is a space to prepare for what comes after the therapy. For example,
What are the further aims of my development?
How do I keep the positive changes in my life?
What will I do if my problem appears again?
Of course, psychotherapy is not the solution to all problems (“visiting your dentist won't be easier”). Life will always have its ups and downs – psychotherapy will not change this. However, if the negative aspects of your life will not destabilize you that much, and thanks to better self-awareness you realize earlier what is happening, and do something about it, it makes a difference.