Friday, January 16, 2015

My experience with therapy | Part I


I fell into the armchair, which was surprisingly more comfortable than it looked. My hands were shaky, my palms were sweaty and my cheeks blushed a light tone of red. I stared at the woman opposite me, smiling and clearly waiting for me to speak. After a few moments of awkward smiles back and forth, the first words exchanged came from her lips, ‘So, what can I help you with?’ That was indeed a very interesting question, and despite the fact that I had a very specific answer in mind, it took me a while to coerce my mouth to move.

It all started with a conversation, where I told a friend that my squeamishness had taken to new depths and it was beginning to affect my being able to attend class. My mother had suggested previously that maybe I should attempt hypnotherapy, which I pushed aside as being not only outrageously overpriced but also doubtful that it would have any effect on me. It wasn’t until my friend informed me that the university offered the service for free that I began to seriously consider it as an option. 

I went looking for the student counselling service, a section of campus that I had never experienced before, hiding away in a secret corridor that would be invisible if you weren’t looking for it. Walking into the office seemed daunting, and the lady behind the reception desk smiled at me calmly, before stating that to partake in hypnotherapy, I had to attend a counselling session first. 

Counselling comes with various connotations attached to it. Firstly, that you must be depressed, suffering from anxiety, or have some other serious ailment to attend. These thoughts were further confirmed by the questionnaire I had to sign before my session. Have you ever suffered from depression? Have you ever tried to harm yourself or others around you? Do you ever have suicidal thoughts? I could not have felt more out of place and worried that I was about to vastly waste somebody’s time that could have been better spent with those more in need. When I saw advertisements about drop in sessions for those having a tough time with exam stress, I began to panic less. It suddenly seemed as if maybe everyone was welcome. Who knew, people could just drop in for a chat. 

For the following week my mind began to wander over what might happen at my session. I thought about conversations that may arise, how I would explain what goes through my mind before I panic and pass out at the sight of anything remotely gruesome; from blood and guts to tiny insignificant splinters. I thought about what my counsellor would look like, and how at ease I would feel throughout. I kept replaying the scenes from Good Will Hunting, the old office filled with books, the opening up of two people who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives. A little tip, when trying to prepare yourself for any event in your life, don’t turn to Hollywood movies for advice. 

So there I was, in my ridiculously comfortable armchair, feeling ridiculously uncomfortable. When I finally plucked up the courage to speak, I tried but to no avail to describe my predicament. I lost my voice, muddled my words, and began to get increasingly warmer the more I spoke. What followed was a series of questions that had very little to do with my initial problem. She got me talking about family, friends, university, and life. My answers were simple and brief, which were always responded to with an awkward silence as she waited for me to expand. Maybe I didn’t receive the memo attached to a counselling session, but I couldn’t help but feel violated, like a stranger was prying into the personal aspects of my life and I wanted to remind her that it was none of her business. Then I remembered where I was, this so-called safe space, where questions such as these were common nature. 

The second half of the session was filled with more questions, this time from myself. I asked about therapy, hypnotherapy, how it works, how she was trained, basically anything that got her talking instead of me. After what seemed like a full day sat in her office, I left, having been approved for hypnotherapy, but assuredly un-assured that it would be of any use to me. 

Therapy is a proven method for helping people overcome obstacles in their life, so why did it feel unsucessful? Then I remembered the start of Good Will Hunting, the awkwardness, the long silent sessions that carried on for weeks before the two characters began making progress. I guess I rushed myself to the end of the movie, and forgot about the beginning. 

On the whole, I personally find it much easier to solve my dilemmas with a phone call to my mother than a trip to the therapist’s office, but I am aware that for many this is not an option. I am however, refusing to give up at the first hurdle and will live out the movie until the end. Let's hope hypnotherapy is a little less awkward and a little more triumphant.

2 comments:

  1. This was a really interesting read, sorry you're struggling with things at the moment. Have you tried CBT? Therapy never does anything for me either - if you're anything like me, you're already very self aware and don't need someone else to explain your feelings and thought processes to you. Therapy, therefore, feels like one big uncomfortable waste of time. You should look into CBT, though, if you haven't already! Good luck to you xx

    Rachel | A Little Grey

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one!! I've heard of CBT before but never looked into it properly, I will have to check it out. Thanks for the advice, and thank you for reading :)

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