A client told me this in the session:
“I know what you mean and it certainly makes a lot of sense to stop doing this to myself. But, it is just so much easier to go with my original one.”
Many people come to therapy because they are stuck in the same situation over and over again. They realized that they needed some change. So, they take the steps and call a therapist.
I have estimated that probably only 50% of the people who called actually followed through the appointment. Why?
It could be because of me. They don’t like the connection they felt with me on the phone.
It could be because of the time. After we set up the appointment, they feel better and don’t feel the needs to come anymore. (Research actually showed that some people started to make changes in their lives between the phone call and their first sessions.)
It could be because of the fear to make this first step and therefore, they changed their mind to come in.
After therapy started, it takes about 8-12 sessions to start of feel some kind of differences. Usually, in the first 4 weeks, the therapist and the clients get to know each other and the issues to bring into therapy. The clients do feel better to a certain degree now that they can start to work on the issue. At the same time, they don’t actually feel better because they have to really face the music heads on. So, some people dropped out at this time.
I remembered reading a research paper when I was a doctor student about the clients’ self perception of the effectiveness of therapy. Research showed that, for the weekly therapy sessions, clients’ positive feelings do start to increase throughout the weeks but there is a sharp increase between week 8 to 12 and slow increase to stabilization until the end of therapy. In my clinical experiences, this does make a lot of sense. After the initial introduction(week 1-4), it does take some work (week 5-8) for the clients to start to feel a huge change, which is generally between week 8-12. Then, depending on the issues and the duration of the issues, the significant “feelings of difference” might continue but once these changes or new behaviors become clients’ new routine, the feelings start to become normal and the changes certainly slow down.
The problem is, “It makes sense to choose the new behaviors but it is so much easier to go with the old habits.” Therefore, many clients think about going to therapy but never makes to phone call, to the appointments, or continues to see where the therapy can lead them to.
This week, I encountered an unpleasant incident on Monday. I was so upset with the situation that it really ruined my mood for the entire day. I finished some items on my to-do list but it wasn’t as productive as I wanted my day to be. The situation was so unpleasant that my first reaction was to never see the people involved in that incident ever again. On Wednesday, one of the person involved apologized to me and listed everything she believed she wronged me. At that moment, I had a thought: “Grace, you can either continue to be angry and gave it to her to let her know how hurt you felt and how righteous she deserved you lashing out on her; or, you can take it in and embraced the idea of forgiveness to let you and herself off the hook to continue your friendship and collaboration.”
I realized the former one is the easy way and how I was treated as a child and by some authorities in the past, but the later one is a choice to experience something different in my life. I hugged her and told her there is no need to apologize.
I walked a way with a friend still by my side and a deeper understanding of what’s like to forgive someone’s unintentional mistake. That is something I didn’t get to experience with my mother and my previous bosses. At that moment, when I made the decision to change, I gained something new valuable.
Change is hard and life is a series choices to make the changes in one’s own life. Which direction you want to go, the easy and comfortable one or a conscious choice to get yourself out of the negative cycle no matter how difficult it is going to be?