Speaking to a Therapist Regularly Can Offer Many Benefits

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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For most of my life, those around me have perceived therapy as taboo. I was taught that if you’re in therapy, something must be wrong with you. From that perspective, it’s a resource people seek only if they’ve experienced a big trauma, or perhaps behavioral problems.

This stigma, combined with limited access to counseling services, resulted in me spending most of my life without a stable connection with a therapist.

Then, one day, I walked up to the third floor of a skyscraper in Denver and entered a therapy office, changing my relationship to counseling forever. Behind closed doors, I started sharing my feelings with another human, allowing the words to make them feel more concrete. Then my therapist and I worked together to examine those feelings by turning them over in our hands and making space for them to exist.

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It wasn’t long before we began noticing patterns in my thoughts. We realized that I tended to ruminate and think that the worst outcome would always be the outcome. Week after week, we peered into my beliefs and my relationship with the world, challenging the patterns that didn’t serve me well.

Therapy didn’t make immediate or radical changes for me. But it did begin to change how I approached conflicts and uncomfortable conversations. I became my own advocate.

As for the rest of my family members, most have experimented with therapy at some point. Two of the eight of us have a consistent schedule with a counselor. Some of us still struggle with thinking that therapy is indicative of weakness or injury. But there have been disruptions to this belief, too.

Dad went to see a therapist after his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2013, as he was having difficulty navigating his new life. Therapy helped him vocalize his anxieties and stresses and become more in tune with his own experience. The neutral party was the perfect sounding board for the whole process. After a few sessions, Dad stopped going habitually, only dropping in to talk about specific things that bothered him.

Since Dad comes from a generation that tends to stigmatize therapy, I’ve always appreciated his ability to find the resources he needs. But I also wonder if consistency would yield better results. It takes us time to both build and deconstruct our habits. So wouldn’t dedicating yourself to a regular therapy practice keep you on track to make those needed changes?

Still, there are plenty of other barriers aside from stigmas that can prevent us from getting the care we need. In my experience, finding a therapist who’s the right fit for you can be difficult, sometimes requiring several attempts. And even after you find “the one,” it can take a while to become comfortable enough to confide in them.

It’s also an expensive resource that often isn’t covered by insurance plans. Or if it is, you might max out at six sessions. I’ve been paying out of pocket for four years, spending a significant portion of my income on my practice. I intend to continue my relationship with my therapist because he provides perspective and educational resources that have largely been unavailable to me otherwise.

While it might not be the right resource for everyone, I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful throughout my journey. And I’m always excited to hear that more people are exploring this valuable tool.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

Comments

Mike avatar

Mike

Mary Beth,
Thank you for that courageous and insightful article. Mental health has such a stigma and seeking out professionals
takes a certain self-care approach. What I have found is that my massage therapist, acupuncturist and physical therapist are great listeners as well. Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s can be shocking so a professional Mental Health Therapist is invaluable. I feel very lucky that the V.A. has provided me with that resource. Blessings, Mike

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Anne Wray avatar

Anne Wray

Thank you for sharing your story. I happen to be a mental health therapist with the added bonus of living with Parkinson's! I also see a therapist pretty regularly to help me sort out my thoughts. I think it is very important for anyone to have a place/person that they can share their thoughts with and there is no relationship that weighs in the balance. I have not advertised my Parkinson's as a clinician but your article got me wondering if maybe if I did include that I could make coming to therapy more comfortable for people with Parkinson's.....

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William Palmer avatar

William Palmer

Thank you, Mary Beth. I see my therapist every three weeks. He helps a great deal. I had a poem published last month that concerns meeting with him one particular time. It is the second poem in the link.

https://oneartpoetry.com/2022/07/17/two-poems-by-william-palmer/

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Lori DePorter avatar

Lori DePorter

Some of the most important lessons I learned in therapy were it's ok to ask for help
https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/columns/changes-rules-accepting-help-counseling-psychotherapy/

And the rule of three and cognitive therapy
https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/columns/coping-with-stress-anxiety-depression-parkinsons/

Great Column Mary Beth

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