The 5 Phases Of Therapy + Tips To Identify Which One You're In
Therapy for Anxiety and Trauma in Five Towns, Long Island, New York
Did you know that any kind of change happens in 5 Phases?
And counseling + therapy is no different!
Guess what? Therapy isn’t just a process that involves calling a therapist, scheduling a session and engaging in the healing work! There is a lot more at play when you decided to begin, and continuously engage in the process.
There are 5 phases that build upon each other, getting you more ready and prepared for the healing work.
Phase 1: PRE-CONTEMPLATION
In this phase you haven’t thoroughly thought about the fact that your life can change, or be different. Someone in your life (partner, friend, neighbor) suggested therapy but you’re not sure about it. You might have a sense that something is off or wrong but there’s a strong pull to ignore it (also know as denial). Sometimes, if the issues are obvious to others, they may try engaging you in the idea of giving therapy a try. If you’re in this phase, you’re just at the dip of possibly wanting to hear more
Phase 2: CONTEMPLATION
At this point you’ve become aware that you have a problem, and you think you’re ready for a change. But the commitment and focus to take the next step is scary. You’re not sure you’re ready to take the leap and spring into action. You may go online and google different symptoms, diagnosis and latest treatment approaches, so you are more informed about your options.
I have to say, engaging in therapy, and especially the phase of starting to think of committing to the work takes a tremendous amount of bravery and courage. It can be scary to be honest with yourself, acknowledge that you need help, and while you hope for relief, there may be fears about what therapy might look like. Sometimes being honest makes the symptoms get louder, which is normal, but as you start doing the work the symptoms tend to lessen as you practice new skills, have insights and newfound relief. Be patient with the process and know that whatever you are thinking and feeling is normal.
Now, at some point you get uncomfortable staying with the contemplating of the “what if’s”…..which brings you to the next phase.
Phase 3: PREPARATION
You know that you cannot and do not want to keep living the way you’ve been living, so you begin your research on which therapist might be a good fit for you. You get to see who has specialized trainings in treating your specific symptoms and whose fees are within your budget. You may try reaching a few people and getting a sense of their style, personality and methods to see which one may be the most comfortable for your longer term therapy work.
Now in this phase, I encourage you to pause and ask yourself the following questions, as you’re about to embark one the next step that requires some new elements.
You Today: Am I comfortable in my life or are there things that are nagging at me?
Ready to Challenge: Am I ready to roll my sleeves up to try something different to help create a change?
Develop Compassion: Am I willing to strengthen, or develop, a compassionate, gentle approach to myself so I can move through the therapy with self love and inner grace?
Accountability: Am I ready to look myself in the mirror and take full responsibility for who I am, my actions and choices?
Commitment: Am I ready to commit to learning to heal the hurts so I can live a better, more meaningful, honest life?
More Joy: Am I ready to allow myself to live a life that has more joy + ease and make choices that align with that?
Supports: Have I identified people, activities and/ or places that help me calm down and feel supported so I have places to go when I’m needing extra love + support.
Motivation Motto: Can I create a motto that will keep me going when I get scared, when I get doubtful or when I get pulled back into “negativity thinking,” or as trauma experts say “the trauma brain”. For example: Keep Going. You Got This. Changing Brain + Behaviors + Patterns takes Time + Consistency. KEEP GOING.
Some of these questions may feel like you have a resounding “yes” and others more of a a weak “meh”. Regardless, it’s helpful for you to look at the components that will be at play. If you feel lost and confused, don’t fret just yet. You can bring these specific elements and questions to your first therapy session and ask for help with building and cultivating the specific skills necessary for healing.
Phase 4: ACTION
This phase is where you take action and begin your therapy. You found someone who you feel comfortable enough starting with, and schedule a weekly session (usually recommended for maximum results in therapy). If you’ve never been to therapy, or even if you have, beginning again can bring worries, fears, unknown and a bit of panic. Be open with your therapist about how this is for you so he/she can support you with this phase and be there as a resource. You’ll likely begin identifying treatment goals, what is compelling you to begin treatment and where you’d like to be in a few months from now. The therapist often shares some of their approaches, experience working with your issues and then begins the therapy work with you.
Phase 5: MAINTENANCE
This phase is when you are ready to wrap up treatment, for some it will be after a few months, for some after a year or a few years, depending on your treatment needs. This phase is where you learn and practice skills for maintaining the gains you’ve learned. This is a time where you continue practicing and integrating all the skills and best levels of coping you’ve been learning and using for the time you had in therapy. You may choose to join a group or have a touch base session if and when needed. Skilled therapists usually create an after-care plan for you to be able to have in your back pocket so you have what to lean on when you’re in need. Of course, sometimes new life events come up and you’ll want to reconnect to therapy for other treatment goals, and that is also something you’ll often discuss in your ending phases of current therapy.
Therapy for Anxiety, Relationships, Trauma and Depression in Five Towns, Long Island, NY.
Those are the five phases of treatment. If you’re in any of the phases, I commend you for seeking within and looking for ways to best support yourself. Want to keep moving forward in your phase? You can reach out to a local therapist for more info or where available, schedule a free consult to get a sense of what therapy would be like for you. With no commitment, just a way to get more data.
If you live in the Five Towns, in Nassau County, Garden City, Mineola or anywhere across Long Island, NY and have questions about therapy, I’m here to help! Feel free reach out and ask me anything!