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HOW CHANGE TAKES PLACE WITHIN THERAPY
Change is at the core of therapy. Whether wanting to change ourselves, experiencing difficulty with changes that are out of our control, or wanting to change how someone treats us, change is almost always the main reason many of us decide to seek and engage with therapy. While it is impossible to change how others treat us or life’s general course, change within self is always possible – beliefs, behaviours, reactions, responses, and patterns – and can greatly enrich our life experiences. In fact, it is through evolution and education that we grow and create positivity!
Anyone who has tried to commit to change will understand that it’s not as simple as a mere decision. As humans, we are habitual creatures, meaning we are pretty set in our ways of being – we are stubborn, we gravitate toward the familiar. Some therapists take the approach of there being six “phases” of change, known as the transtheoretical model:
- Pre-contemplation – in this phase, we are often unaware of our behaviour being problematic. and we tend to underestimate the benefits of change and place more emphasis on the cons of undergoing change rather than the pros.
- Contemplation – in this phase, we recognise that our behaviour might be an issue, and we deliberate more practically on the pros and cons of change with equal consideration of both.
- Preparation – in this stage, we are usually ready for change, we might start taking small steps toward it and understand that it will be beneficial to us.
- Action – this stage is as it sounds. At this point, we’ve taken action and intend to keep moving forward with our positive behavioural changes.
- Maintenance – at this point, we have upheld our behavioural changes for a while, usually at least six months.
- Termination – this is the point where we have successfully beat our old habits and behaviours, and have no desire to return to them.
Therapists can facilitate personal change…
While change can be difficult to contemplate and face, it’s an inevitable part of life. The good news is, whether we are actively seeking, or resisting it, therapy can greatly help us cope. Therapists provide support through knowledge in non-judgemental capacity; the point of therapy is to learn about ourselves and hopefully create positive change as a result. Many therapists will encourage their clients’ to view change as a “shift” – in perspective, in energy, or in attention. Therapists can help us understand beliefs and behaviours that we may not be aware of, helping us think about them from an outside perspective and thus helping us gain insight into how we are interacting with others and the world around us.
A strong relationship with a therapist also helps us to understand that in most cases, we already possess the mental strength and tools we need to create our desired changes. Our brains are like muscles – the more we exercise them, the stronger they become!
Another skill that therapists will often help us develop is assertive behaviour – asking and going after what we want, setting limits and boundaries, and rejecting patterns and behaviours that no longer serve us. This will not only improve our interpersonal relationships, but our personal experiences and approach to life as well.
Therapy should be an empowering experience where we gain a greater understanding and awareness of ourselves and what we are capable of. By fostering change within therapy, we avoid feeling like life is “happening to us” and instead feel we can take control.
Are you ready to create positive change? Reach out to the Mind Matters team to start the journey.Back to all Posts