Anxiety is a natural and sometimes even adaptive part of the experience of being a person. It can also cause problems if it becomes too much of a part of your daily life. Sometimes, anxiety can interfere with essential aspects of functioning including sleep disruption, difficulty with relationships, feelings of physical pain or stress, excessive sweating, difficulty in social situations, intrusive thoughts or feelings, and in extreme cases, panic attacks.
Working to understand its cause can help to alleviate some of the symptoms experienced with excess anxiety, and personal therapy can provide a safe venue to do just that.
Depression is one of the most common problems treated in psychotherapy and counseling. It can look different for different people, with experiences ranging from sustained apathy or indifference to profound sadness. It can be a contributor to difficulty with sleep, weight gain or loss, lack of motivation, agitation, confusion, and disorganization. With such varied manifestations, depression often has effects on relationships with family, coworkers, and friends.
Psychotherapy often provides a starting point to explore personal causes of depression. Having a consistent venue in which to objectively explore different areas of stagnation, conflict, sadness, or guilt can allow for insight and relief.
Do you have trouble staying calm, or managing anger? Do “little things” make you feel inappropriate stress? Sometimes even the smallest things can seem overwhelming, and can result in our emotions feeling out of control. Managing emotions involves becoming mindful of triggers, learning coping mechanism, and understanding larger patterns. Starting therapy can be a good way to learn how to manage emotions more effectively.
Personal and Career Identity Development
Identity can be shaped by many influences. Understanding who you are is informed by biology, family, culture, race, religion, personal beliefs, and education. As we navigate these different spheres of identity and move through different levels of education, we begin to hone in on a sense of interest in meaningful tasks in school, then at work. This translates to a career identity. Understanding how to balance these influences and construct a meaningful, dynamic and mature personal and career identity can lead to a more fulfilling life and can start with exploration in therapy.
No matter how satisfied we are with our relationships, they require consistent work, understanding, and compromise. Being in therapy can help to explore relationship patterns, uncover dynamics unique to a person’s history, and identify ways in we both contribute to and detract from wellness in our relationships.
Dealing with Change
Our lives are always changing: a new job, a new friendship or relationship, an illness, a graduation, or even the loss of a loved one are all different types of transitions. Transitions come in all shapes and sizes. A larger scale transition like a break up, job change, or apartment move may have a different effect on our life as a medium scale transition like needing to work from home for a week because of the flu, and a small scale transition is like unexpectedly taking the bus instead of the subway because of weekend construction. Transitions can be both exciting and challenging. While trying new things can be refreshing, many people find comfort in their daily routines, and experiencing a transition can get in the way of these comforts. Therapy can offer a place to plan for, cope with and grow constructively through life’s constant changes.
For more on dealing with change, please see my blog post.
Storytelling is one of humankind’s longest running traditions. Distant ancestors from virtually all cultures and backgrounds have used spoken story to carry on tradition, to entertain, to communicate, and even to survive. Yes, we are hard-wired for story, and there are different ways to understand your story and tell it to others could also help to make you feel good.
In my work as a psychologist and in partnering with experts in listening and storytelling at Narativ Inc.*, I have learned that both listening and telling stories can be quite therapeutic. In treatment, listening is crucial. Often, clients seeking help with any of the above areas (depression, anxiety, relationship conflict, emotion management, identity exploration, or change management) are focusing on just ONE “problem story” in their life, and listening can help them to explore alternative narratives, sometimes relieving stress or anxiety. Indeed, client stories often require very close and attuned listening to recognize relationship patterns, dynamics, and client strengths.
Ah, but listening attentively is, as they say “only half the story.” Telling stories to good listeners can have amazing effects for all types of people. Having run many workshops and witnessed the power of telling an untold story, I can attest, even the person who believes he or she does not have a story to tell, with the right listening, and tools, will find it, and tell it.