How can I keep that therapy feeling all week long?
February 12, 2009 4:20 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep that therapy feeling all week long?

I've been going to therapy for anxiety and panic issues for a few months now. I feel sheer terror the morning of, significant relief after and the rest of the day. I usually feel reasonably good for the next few days and then the anxiety/panic builds in varying degrees from week to week until the terror is back again before my appt.

I know that in time I will start feeling better for more of the time. But my question is, if talk therapy generally makes you feel more relaxed after, how do you hold on to that balance at other times? How do you "retain" what happened in therapy?

I'm doing exercise, yoga, not on medication, trying to eat well, etc. I'm more after something like, how do I best retain and practice what we talked about in therapy, and how do I do for myself what my therapist does to help me. Because in essence, he is helping me help myself and blah blah blah...
posted by sweetkid to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You can keep a journal of your sessions. Just write down what you covered in your session immediately afterward, then return to it throughout the week to go over what you and your therapist discussed. You can add stuff as well, so that you have more material to discuss at your next session. Maybe your therapist can even suggest things to add to the journal or exercises that you can go over. Having this consistent sort of connection to your sessions may help you feel like you're not losing touch with therapy so much as the week progresses. Best of luck!
posted by orme at 4:39 PM on February 12, 2009

Best answer: Within an hour of the session, jot notes on your session; what was discussed, how you felt about it, how you felt about the therapist during it all, anything that got left out. If you need to, bring a notebook with you and jot down a few words here and there to remind yourself of things to flush out later. As long as you can still participate, I'd think the therapist would support your efforts to try to work consistently through the week.

I found having written proof of having felt some improvement right after a session made it easier to recall those feelings of success. Also, part of being so relaxed right after therapy is that it is always the same time, therapist, environment, and nothing traumatic or incredibly out of routine has happened, etc. So I found having a couple small routines like that at home helped- things that do NOT get interrupted for any reason, and keeping them as a refuge (mine is drinking coffee in the AM: 45 min that everyone knows not to come into the sunroom).

Figure out what it is you get in that time, and try to replicate it outside: time to yourself, non-judgemental listening, unique ideas, etc. It is possible he could suggest some casual reading that echoes his convictions about therapy which could help you through the week.

I've had five years of weekly to 2x-weekly therapy and the first year was incredibly hard because I had no idea how to use therapy well or even how to tell the therapist that! Best of luck to you, feel free to mefi mail me.
posted by variella at 4:46 PM on February 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

I used to get in my car following therapy and, w/ no interrruptions--radio, music, etc.--- talk through aloud what I'd just learned...What I now knew was true, things I hadn't known or grasped as well as I now did following the day's therapy. I'd talk about how I'd apply them to situations I knew would arise, until the next appt. In your case, you might make a point of talking about how you feel after you leave, what truths you see that allow you to feel differently than you did that morning when you were terrified about the appt.

What was important for me was to identify the Truth...newly understood absolutes about my life and situation, and verbalize them to solidify them in my mind just after the appt so it wasn't just a good feeling, tied to a general idea that we'd had a good session.

When I got home or wherever I was going, I'd write down the specifics that really struck me from that post-therapy evaluation and post them in a place visible to me (fridge, calendar, computer). As issues came up during the week I'd think about them in terms of/in context of, my verbal and written post-mortem that outlined the truths that were clear to me at the end of the session.

I also prayed; if you're not a pray-er that might mean meditation during yoga, exercise, etc. If I felt myself going back to ways of thinking that I understood to be based on untruths, I'd do the same thing again. Talking through it aloud, alone with no interruptions, and looking over written truths. You may want to write them in a journal, poetry form, whatever works for you. For me, clarity in my recollections of what I'd learned and then calling those up over and over again as needed, helped me to begin to live in truth longer between sessions. To live what I knew in therapy, as I walked through my life.

And it will get better...I use things I learned in therapy, even now, two decades later. ; o Who knew?!
posted by mumstheword at 4:59 PM on February 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Can you talk to your therapist about being in touch by phone at a halfway point between your sessions? Most therapists won't charge time for a phone call that is 10 minutes or less. Maybe that's all the time you need to touch base, go over a few things, get some reassurance and keep that "therapy feeling" a little bit longer.
posted by meerkatty at 5:25 PM on February 12, 2009

Response by poster: Lots to think about so far. I just wanted to add that I go once a week, since I don't think it was clear in my question. So the cycle happens every week.

Also, I wanted to point out, as an aside, that I really think the anxiety was the culprit behind the behavior in this question, in case that helps anyone else.
posted by sweetkid at 5:55 PM on February 12, 2009

You may be a good candidate for medication in conjunction with your therapy. Ask your therapist.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 9:57 PM on February 12, 2009

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