Is your therapy working? Counseling in Long Island
Anxiety, Depression and Trauma Therapy in the Five Towns, Nassau County and Long Island, NY
What’s the goal of therapy?
I’d like you to take a moment and think about it. Of course you want to work through blockages, stressors, resolves traumas and triggers. You want to improve your marriage, advance your parenting capacities and expand your quality of life.
But what does that mean to you + your therapist as you identify treatment goals? How do you track how your progress is going?
I recently posted a video clip that was describing how you know if your treatment is going well. In it I address the concept of developmental phases and how any kind of treatment (CBT, DBT, Expressive Arts, EMDR,Somatic) should be holding that in mind as you’re supported in moving through struggles. I posted a photo from a training I received in my advanced EMDR certification in treating trauma, dissociation and preverbal traumas.
The picture had drawings of different phases and ages from 3 months age until adulthood and the tasks necessary for completion. The photo explained how, in therapy, the focus is helping you graduate “developmental stages” as you process through therapy goals.
EMDR, Trauma + Developmental Stages.
What does this have to do with you?
That brings me to Erikson. Erik Erikson is the father of Psychosocial Development Theory. Erikson was a theorist who explained that just as we have physical milestones (a baby, holding head up alone, sitting, crawling, feeding self, walking, running and talking, and future developmental steps in young childhood , adolescent years and adulthood) so too, we “graduate” emotional/psychosocial milestones in order to function properly in a mature adult world.
You might know when you began using your first words or when you were able to have a playdate and share with a friend, but do you know when you first experienced a feeling of autonomy, a feeling of inferiority or a sense of intimacy?
In 1959 Erikson broke down 8 phases of psychosocial development that we all need to go through in order to live a well balanced, flexible life.
Erikson explained that we face a crisis at every phase. What does this mean? in each phase we are met with a new challenge (psychologically) that needs to be processed and we either do so successfully or not. If we are successful and the outcome is a good one, you are able to “successfully graduate” that phase and move onto the next phase. However, if you were unsuccessful in meeting the tasks and challenges, you may get “stuck” in that specific phase.
What does this mean for you today?
If you had a milestone say at 16 years old (Identity Vs. Role Confusion) that you were unable to graduate, you may still have a part of you that is stuck at a 16- year-old-self who is trying to solidify your identity, even though you are 45 years old at present time. In specific situations that triggers you, your brain + body will act, think and engage based on the age where it may have gotten trapped.
You may even notice that, when triggered, your actions or choices were not in alignment with who you naturally are, or who you’d like to be.
This may be a clue to the areas of stuck points that are needing help to move forward to help you integrate as a fully adult, in all situations!
This isn’t to say you can’t be successful or “together” in your adult life; however, you may find that you get triggered by certain comments, situations or conversations without an understandable reason. Or, you may notice you act your age in most areas of life but in one specific area you notice that there is a lack of knowledge, maturity and insight. That can be that a “part of you” that is split off of your daily self, is stuck at that phase.
Why is this important?
If you’re in therapy, chances are you’re stuck in some way or another. You may need guidance, healing, or to learn a new way of being with yourself and others.
Comprehensive therapy is where the therapist goes through a thorough assessment and together you identify areas of distress as well as hopes for healing; all keeping in mind “graduating” the parts that are stuck in “developing” years.
Your therapy goals revolve around helping you shift and mature in the areas needed.
Of course therapy isn’t a linear process and I’m no behaviorist so I would’t anticipate changes overnight. At the same time, having a frame of reference is clarifying + solidifying for watching the areas of growth and tracking the change.
The 8 fascinating stages of development:
Stage 1: birth – 18 months: Trust vs. Mistrust
Stage 2: 18 moths – 3 years: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
Stage 3: 3-5 years: Initiative vs. Guilt
Stage 4: 5-12 years: Industry vs. Inferiority
Stage 5: 12-18 years: Identity vs. Role Confusion
Stage 6: 18-40 years: Intimacy vs. Isolation
Stage 7: 40-65: Generativity vs. Stagnation
Stage 8: 65+: Ego Integrity vs. Despair
There they are! I imagine some or all of this is new to you, so it’s normal to feel confused. I’m going to be explaining snippets of how each of these may play out in adult live and how to link it to a developmental phases + what psychotherapy would look like to help solidify + graduate that phase.
I’ll also be giving some tips on identifying when you’re hick-upping on a specific phase and how to loosen the potential trappings.
Curious but want relief + support today in healing your life + graduating developmental struggles in adult life? Common struggles may be anxiety, moodiness, irritability, struggles at work, love or family. If you live in the Five Towns, Nassau County, Long Beach or anywhere across Long Island, NY I’d be happy to help. Reach out today to schedule your consult so we can help you.