I’ve been working with a therapist for almost two years now. While I know I definitely feel better post-sessions, I do still fall into old patterns of thought and have to pull myself out of it. And it’s times like these that I feel like I really have to ask myself: is therapy working?
I doubt I’m alone in this. Therapy is an expense that, albeit sometimes covered by insurance, usually is only covered in part or not at all. Which makes it an elective activity. And definitely one on which people want to see a return on their investment.
I subscribe to Yvette Erasmus‘s biweekly email newsletter, and this week’s topic feels particularly poignant. She discusses healing in whatever form you may be seeking it. Self-work, therapy, movement, whatever your jam might be. Yvette’s unique background and perspective look at global citizenry through the lens of individuality, and I love how she synthesizes information. And her checklist of six signs that you are healing is particularly relevant for those of us asking whether we’re healing through therapy.
Signs Therapy is Working
How can you really assess your healing through therapy or other activities? Well, let’s see:
- … aren’t blaming yourself.
When things go wrong, are you able to accept it and move through it? Self care includes self compassion. Avoiding a shame or defensive spiral is a sign that you are healing.
- … can speak up without worry or feeling self conscious.
To paraphrase Doc Sharon from Ted Lasso: the truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off (or make you feel like you shouldn’t share it, or make you feel like you have to hide things). Being truthful might seem like the hard road at times, but it’s better than trying to keep up lies. You trust yourself to be able to repair relationships and connections that might be hurt by the truth.
- … aren’t as sensitive to rejection and judgement.
Learning that other people’s actions aren’t reflective of me was a huge step forward. As Yvette notes, the actions of others isn’t a report card on you. Making peace that you aren’t everyone’s cup of tea-and being okay with that-is a big sign of healing.
- … are less easily triggered.
Note that this doesn’t say that you aren’t ever triggered. You’ll still feel the pangs and signs of something painful rising up in you, whether it’s stored trauma, bad memories or unprocessed negative experiences. But you’re now able to recognize those feelings as they rise up. You’re able to sit with them, breathe through them, cry it out. You know how to support yourself.
- … respect, set and maintain boundaries.
Say no when your body is resistant, and say yes when it brings joy. You can accept it when others tell you no. You can sense the boundaries of other people, know that it’s not a reflection on you, and reciprocate with your own boundaries and firm No.
- … honestly no longer see yourself as worse-or better-than others.
Creating empathy for yourself and holding empathy for others allows you to see and remember that we’re all working through our own shit in our own way.
Are You Healing?
Ultimately, the question is fairly simple (but the answer may be complex): how are you feeling? Truly, honestly answering how you are feeling is step one. For me, I know I know I backslide from time to time. But overall, a combination of a few things healing me. Therapy, for sure. Finding time to write and pursue my hobbies is another. And finally, making time for movement is super key. If you’re interested in chatting more about this topic, reach out!