Trudge On: Sticking with Therapy During Hard Times

So, you’re in therapy and it’s helping. Then along comes a major life event such as a potentially devastating hurricane, the death of a loved one or sudden unemployment.  When the going gets tough, do you reach out to your therapist for support and continue your sessions, or do you put them on hold until the crisis has passed? 

To share a personal experience (Wendy), I’ve worked with several excellent therapists in my life, both for personal and professional (training) therapy. Because I felt a strong connection with each of my therapists, they were often among the first people I turned to when life felt overwhelming or a major life crisis hit. Those life crises provided excellent “grist for the {therapy} mill” and special opportunities to work on new ways to be resilient and to explore issues that were stirred up. As long as we had power and transportation, our sessions were on!

Crises rarely happen at convenient times and don’t consult our schedules or preferences. They can come as a fire, a car accident or something else completely out of our control, like weather disasters. And they’re as likely to happen when we’re dealing with other challenges than not.

In the last few weeks, Floridians – along with people in many other parts of the world – have experienced terrifying weather events. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria have left devastation in their path and Mexico City experienced a life-changing earthquake. And the waiting, watching and wondering “what if” as we tracked those spaghetti models from minute to minute on TV and online was torturous. Should we stay or go? Will our homes and businesses survive?  How long will power be out and will we be able to get food, water and gasoline? What next?

Crises rarely happen at convenient times and don’t consult our schedules or preferences. Click To Tweet

Although Tampa was largely spared the worst damage, towns and cities from across our state have been affected by the storm in some shape or form. If you’re reading this in Tampa, did you feel a sense of both relief and some form of survivor guilt for escaping the worst of Irma? Did you find that the adrenaline and anxiety that was stirred up by the threat of a direct hit to your home completely freaked you out? And is your anxiety level returning to normal, or is that heightened sense of fear and the potential loss of control still keeping you up at nights?

If you were working with a therapist prior to these crazy weather events or other life crisis, it’s important to stay the course. You might even be surprised at how what seems like the worst time in your life can turn out to be quite pivotal in a positive way.

Time to Be Resilient

According to Dr. Lloyd I. Sederer, Chief Medical Officer of the New York State Office of Mental Health, individuals who are faced with a traumatic crisis or disaster that already have a pre-existing vulnerability (such as a propensity toward anxiety or depression) are at greater risk of developing a clinical disorder. This is due to the fact that there is no margin left on the table.

Dr. Sederer additionally claims that most people are resilient, but some need support to harness our resilient selves. He says, “We find and nourish the capacity to keep a catastrophic and tragic situation from becoming an enduring tragedy.” This statement perfectly encapsulates the importance of sticking with therapy during times of crises. Doing so not only helps us step closer towards understanding our issues and solving our problems, but it additionally lets us invest in ourselves and our community.

For Personal Reasons

When the universe throws us a major curveball, life can suddenly come into incredible focus. Click To Tweet

Therapy during a difficult time provides an invaluable opportunity to process what’s going on, keep underlying problems from becoming overwhelming and sometimes leads to surprisingly helpful insights and gains. When the universe throws us a major curveball, life can suddenly come into incredible focus.

Many of us reexamine our mortality, choices and priorities. If an underlying mental illness or issues are triggered or get worse, or if you’re having trouble sleeping, concentrating or moving ahead and returning to your normal routine, continuing your therapy or seeking to begin therapy can be a lifesaver.

Therapy can instill hope and help you find your path toward personal growth. The following are different ways that your therapy can help:

  • Relating to Others – Sharing difficult experiences can deepen bonds and help us realize that we can trust others to listen, care and help.
  • Personal Strength – Times of crisis can destroy our self-esteem and trick us into blaming ourselves. By facing difficult times, we can learn just how strong we are and how much we can bear.
  • Appreciating Life – After difficult and traumatic periods, many people begin to reconnect with the simple pleasures in life. Going through trauma may very well be the perfect time to rebuild.

Our Doors Are Open

Therapy can instill hope and help you find your path toward personal growth. Click To Tweet

The damage and destruction brought on by Hurricane Irma and other crises from around the globe can be enough to make us want to give up hope. At Rice Psychology Group, we know that avoiding underlying problems and pretending that they aren’t troubling us is rarely a helpful approach. If you were working with a therapist before a major life crisis, we strongly encourage you to stick with your therapy during and after one of these events.

Doing so can help you grow, strengthen and flourish. We hope that you have a strong enough relationship, or “therapeutic alliance”, that you will find your therapist to be a source of support, comfort, hope, healing and learning. If you or a loved one needs help understanding a situation in life, don’t hesitate to give us a visit in Tampa today.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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