By Janet Whyte, LCSW
Most people seek therapy when they are having a problem that they need help working through, or when their mental health is not doing well. After working with your therapist over time, you may feel as though you have solved your problem, and your overall mental health may start to improve. The question then becomes: do you stop attending therapy now that you are feeling better?
Of course, this is a personal choice to make, however there are many constructive ways to utilize therapy while you are doing well. It is very important to learn how to maintain your mental health once your symptoms feel manageable. When you have achieved a therapeutic goal, you and your therapist can explore ways to ensure that you maintain your progress.
Another important concept to recognize is that progress is not always linear. There may be periods of time when you are feeling well and have achieved goals, and then there may be times when you regress to old patterns; this is normal! Your therapist can help you learn how to identify when you may be regressing and how to redirect your focus back to your goals.
What happens when you feel as though you have nothing else to talk about in therapy? This is a great opportunity to reflect on your progress and the work you did to get there, so that you can utilize this information to help you in the future. It can be empowering to talk about your successes in therapy, rather than focusing solely on the things you are struggling with. You can also think about setting new goals that will bring you to an even higher level of happiness and fulfillment.
Your therapist will continue to check in to ensure that you are practicing healthy coping skills. It is helpful to practice strategies discussed in therapy during times of wellness, as this will continue to reinforce the skillset. As new stressors present themselves, it can be helpful to stay in therapy so that you are able to identify and manage these stressors with additional support.
Lastly, it can be useful to explore family and relationship dynamics, childhood or past life experiences, losses, or any other patterns and events that have influenced you over the course of your life. Your therapist can help you to gain a better understanding of yourself in the context of these past experiences, gain any sense of closure you may need, and learn how to move forward in a healthy and productive way.
If you have any further questions or feel lost about how to proceed in therapy, your therapist will be happy to assist you in planning out the next steps. Making the commitment to attend therapy throughout various phases of life will help you work towards a higher level of mental health and wellbeing.