Ep. 173: Things to Know When Starting Therapy
Welcome back to another episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast. Today I would like to discuss with you a question that comes up quite a lot when I am starting with a new client. So often my clients will say to me "What can I expect during my first session?" I want to share with you what I tell my clients about the things to know when starting therapy.
The first thing I say to my clients is that your brain can change. You may have a disorder that was inherited or triggered by a certain event, but the good news is that by changing your behavior, you can actually change your brain.
The second thing I say is that no matter your mental health struggle, there is a science proven way to treat that disorder. We have evidence based treatments and you can absolutely can get better.
Thirdly, I tell my clients that no matter what struggles they are going through, it is not their fault. This is not something they asked to have happen. We are going to move away from assigning blame and move towards self-compassion.
The fourth thing I would say is that you should not enjoy coming to see me. The work can be really hard and it will mean facing your fears, so if you are enjoying coming to see me then we may need to look at the reasons why. The goal is to actually give my clients the tools they need so that they do not need me anymore.
Finally I tell my clients that they need to be prepared to do the hard work. There will be lots of homework and a lot of facing your fears, but nothing changes if they are not willing to do the work. I always remind them that it is a beautiful day to do those hard things.
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Ep. 173 Transcript:
Guys, I am so grateful to have you with me today. I know your time is incredibly precious and valuable, and so I'm so happy to just be with you.
How are you doing? Just checking in. How is everybody? It is well and truly 2021. Lots and lots of happening in the world. Lots and lots of changes. I'm just wrapping my head around them all.
In this new year, I made a deal with myself to spend a little bit more time on social media, which is so funny because I think most people were saying, “No, I think I'd like to spend less time.” I'm actually saying, “No, I'd like to spend more time on social media.” I hang out a lot on Instagram and on the Facebook group called CBT School Campus or on my Facebook page. I promised myself I'd spend more time there because I'm realizing after last year that I felt really disconnected to you guys and I really wanted to get back into feeling connected. I have loved it.
If you're on Instagram, go over and follow me @kimberleyquinlan, or you can go over to the Facebook group. It's CBT School Campus, or my Facebook is Kimberly Quinlan with CBT School after it.
That being said, I just wanted to let you know that today, I wanted to chat with you about something I have not talked about, but I thought it would be a really great topic. A lot of people in the new year have been reaching out, looking for clinical services – help for OCD, help for anxiety, help for an eating disorder, or help for a BFRB. We love helping people. I have a great staff of seven licensed therapists who all treat the same disorders that I do. It's just been so wonderful to see all the new clients and people coming in really ready to get help.
It really came across my mind in that one of the questions new patients and clients have is: What should I expect in the first session? What does the first session look like? What would you tell me in the first session? I thought this would be a great topic to talk to you guys about.
So I want to share with you the five things I tell every single client or patient in their first session. Are you ready? Let's do it.
Once I have introduced myself and they've introduced themselves and they tell me a little bit about their struggles and what they're wanting to work on, I, at some point in the session, are going to tell them I'll do a thorough assessment. But I will, at some point, either at the beginning or at the end or somewhere, wherever it's most appropriate, share with them one major piece of good news.
1. Your brain can change.
Even if you have a disorder that may be is hereditary, has been passed down from generation to generation, or you have a disorder that was triggered by a certain event, or you have a disorder or a problem that was triggered by societal expectations, such as eating disorders, I always share with my patients and clients the great news, which is you can change your brain. In some cases, for those of us who have anxiety, even though your brain might be firing away, setting off the alarm bells all day long, “Danger, danger, danger,” you can change the way your brain reacts to these misfires.
Now, you can't do it by simply trying to change your thoughts. We know that. Changing thoughts sometimes can be very, very important. I'm not going to deny that. It's an important piece of depression work. It's an important piece of, like I said, eating disorder work and so forth for everybody.
But the cool thing here is more importantly, by changing your behaviors, you can change your brain. By changing the way you react to fear, you can change your brain. You can connect parts of your brains that weren't connecting. You can strengthen parts of your brain that is weak or they're not connecting and the connection isn't so strong. Your brain can change, and this is good news. This is great news.
When we found this out in science, we all had a big party because it was really reinforcing that if you do a scan of someone pretreatment of their brain, and then you did a scan of their brain post-treatment, we would be able to see the changes in their brain, and this is really cool.
2. If you have OCD or a phobia, generalized anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety, health, anxiety, hair pulling, skin picking, and eating disorder, any of these, any of the mental health issues, that there is a science proven way to treat your disorder.
This is good news. I fill you with hope by saying, I understand that what you're going through is really painful, but the good news is, we have scientific evidence to prove that we're on the right track and we're going to be administering the correct treatment.
If you have OCD, the science proven treatment is exposure and response prevention. If you have hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting, the science proven treatment is habit reversal training. If you have depression or an eating disorder, the science proven treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. If you have health anxiety, you're again going to have a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy with the focus being exposure and response prevention, same goes for phobias, same goes for social anxiety.
All of these, we're going to, let’s say the frosting on top is that we're also going to apply science proven techniques, such as mindfulness and self-compassion. This is not woo-woo stuff here. This is science. We have tons of evidence to show that you can get better, that your disorder isn't a mystery. Thank goodness.
Imagine back in the sixties if you had OCD, at that point, or even the seventies, there was no treatment for OCD that was proven. If you had OCD, you were told “Good luck.” A…