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Does Therapy Make Sense for You?




Excerpted from
Shrink to Fit: Answers to Your Questions About Therapy
By Dale Masi, Robin Masi Kuettel

. Mary Ann is a thirty-two year-old mother of two who, after her husband leaves in the morning, finds herself sitting at the kitchen table in tears. She has devoured everything in the refrigerator and has gained fifteen pounds in the last two months.

. Sam needs several drinks to get through the workday. He's finding it increasingly difficult to get himself to work each morning. He also drinks at night. This morning he woke up with no memory of how he made it home.

. When Sally and Peter talk to each other, it is only to criticize one another. They yell, they argue. Or they are silent and withdrawn. Their teenagers are starting to act up in school.

. Jennifer feels that she and her husband no longer communicate well. As her depression deepens, she attempts to patch up the gaps inside of her by shopping, charging countless items she hardly needs. She is terrified her husband will find out how much money she has spent.

Looking at these lives from the outside, it may seem obvious that these people need help. In fact, they are far from being unique in that regard. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, every year one in ten Americans experiences some disability from a diagnosable mental illness. Approximately 40 percent of Americans will sit in a psychotherapist's chair at some point in their lives.

Contrary to some people's opinion, the fact that you think you may need therapy doesn't mean you are crazy. Many of life's stresses are managed without therapy. However, sometimes things pile up and can greatly affect our ability to function in work or school, in relationships and in society in general. Very often it's when this occurs that therapy can be most useful.

The Shrink to Fit Tools

In this book there are several tools designed to help you assess your needs and evaluate your progress in therapy. These are informal instruments designed to be used as guides to help you clarify your journey. Use any or all of the tools as suggested and revisit them when particular phases of your therapy are in question.

The tools are designed to help you stay on track through a potentially bumpy but illuminating process. Obviously, you are placing yourself in the hands of an expert for a reason. Your needs may shift dramatically once you begin to discover more about yourself in therapy. Therapy will reveal many mysteries. Remaining flexible in therapy is critical, as seemingly unrelated issues will probably surface during the process. But by doing this initial and ongoing work, you will save yourself considerable time and money, and probably a good measure of fear and anxiety.

It is suggested that you begin a journal at this stage in the process. Try to write down thoughts and comments about your particular situation that come up during your reading of the book and when going through the checklists. Using this book interactively will help you gain control of your thoughts and organize yourself to begin the journey to feeling better with therapy. You will also be asked to write in your journal after each session in therapy. Start now!

How to Tell If Therapy Is What You Need

You are now going to go through a phase of assessing your needs. In this first step, take a snapshot of your life as it is right now. Freeze all the elements —your feelings, your behavior, your situation — and pick them up as if they were a composite image on a piece of paper. Conducting a thorough self-assessment can help you learn an enormous amount about whether you need therapy, and about what type may be optimal for you.

As you begin this process, you may want to take note of the four basic situations in which someone's emotional health can be adversely affected. Perhaps one or more apply to you.

. Accumulation of life's normal stressors

. Trauma

. Living with a loved one's problem

. Recurring issues



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