How does a session with a psychologist work?
Can meeting a shrink really help me? Where will it lead me? What if he finds my whole story ridiculous? Despite the deep desire to change, to feel better, we fear what we might discover inside. There is also the fear of finding the wrong shrink, of not being understood, of a bad relationship being created, etc. It is almost impossible to know what to expect, as there are almost as many therapies as there are people. Especially since when we try to imagine what might happen, it is always a different situation that occurs. A session with a therapist is above all a time for exchange which allows the two individuals to get to know each other and to define the patient’s needs which are not always easy to identify.
There are many different psychotherapeutic approaches that can help you overcome your difficulties. The methods are therefore very different depending on your motivations. The most common psychotherapies for phobias are cognitive and behavioural therapies, hypnotherapy and psychoanalysis. However, there are many other practices based on breathing and relaxation techniques that can complement the therapy you have chosen.
The apprehension of the first appointment
It is understandable that the first appointment with a psychotherapist can be a source of apprehension. It is a special moment because it is about meeting a new person to talk about you. It is even more difficult to have to disclose what makes you sad, what is bothering you, or to ask for help from someone you don’t even know. For many of us, talking about ourselves is not an easy exercise, especially when it comes to talking about our weaknesses. Why is that? Because the society we live in pushes us to look our best, to be social, and to have to smile even when we are going through difficult situations. It’s also frowned upon to talk about what’s bothering us and we get into the habit of having to keep everything bottled up inside.
As professional as the therapist may be, it is also not easy to confide in him, to let him see our flaws. The psychotherapist is well aware of this and will take the time necessary to put you at ease and listen with the greatest attention to the reasons for your visit. Know that the first meeting does not commit to anything. It is not enough to have to express our difficulties, it is also necessary that “the current” between the professional and yourself can be done. Without this relationship of trust, without the feeling of feeling listened to and understood by what affects you, the therapeutic work cannot be done correctly. After these first exchanges, you will have plenty of time to think before committing to further therapy. Trust your feelings and reactions, the quality of your therapy depends on it.
Which therapy to choose?
If your goal is to get rid of a phobia quickly, to find solutions that allow you to reduce and eliminate the symptoms, then you may choose cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The proposed therapeutic program is different for each type of phobia. The preliminary interviews will allow you to define a therapeutic project adapted to your needs. The therapy then includes a standard in vivo exposure phase which allows you to gradually expose yourself to the anxiety-provoking object or situation. The goal is to obtain a habituation effect and ultimately succeed in controlling your anxiety.
On the other hand, if what matters to you is to know the origin of your troubles, a psychoanalysis will be more appropriate. This therapy remains expensive because it requires a lot of time. It consists of making you aware of the unconscious conflicts that are at the root of your phobias. The whole understanding of phobia and its treatment is based on the analysis of the unconscious. Psychoanalysis is to be considered as a support for personal development rather than a solution allowing a rapid reduction of your symptoms.
Hypnotherapy also finds its place in the treatment of specific phobias. This method consists of placing yourself in an altered state of consciousness that allows you to access your non-conscious resources in order to generate deep and lasting changes. Five to six sessions are generally necessary and the first results can appear from the first three.
Many other therapies such as sophrology, reflexology, art therapy, etc. can also be offered to you in order to calm your stress and your anxieties. They are often indicated to overcome certain psychological difficulties and to learn how to manage differently the emotions that are difficult for you.
As you will have understood, all these approaches are by definition very different from each other. It all depends on the type of therapy you choose. Health professionals are too and even if they are trained in identical therapeutic tools, their personalities and working methods are very different. In general, a therapy session lasts between 45 minutes and 1 hour and extends between 6 to 18 months (often less for hypnotherapy and often more for psychoanalysis). It depends on the intensity of your disorders, the changes presented during the therapy and the number of weekly sessions planned. It is essential that you feel comfortable and confident with your therapist in order to guarantee the effects and quality of psychotherapy. So, take the time to test several of them and take advantage of the fact that no practice is imposed on you!