After being diagnosed with my mental health disorders, I’ve basically become my own therapist. Obviously, I do not recommend that everyone should be their own therapist, because everyone has different circumstances or severities of issues – and professional therapy is amazing if you can do it! I’m just personally in a stable enough place where I’m able to help myself, and I wanted to write a post for the people who feel in the same boat.
Let’s get one initial thing straight: just because you are your own therapist, doesn’t mean that it will be any easier. Having these “conversations” with yourself still requires you to dig down deep. You will still get upset, angry, confused, or whatever feelings that you may expect from actual therapy. Growth is good, but growth hurts.
I have one other important thing to mention.. You don’t always leave therapy sessions feeling better. Sometimes, things take weeks or months to figure out, especially if you are only working off of your own mind – because you aren’t getting any new ideas and advice. I have a personal goal of writing until I feel comfortable enough to walk away from the conversation, but that goal isn’t always met.
So, let’s get into the specifics..
Ask yourself how you are going to set your sessions up. Make sure you dedicate yourself to being consistent with them. I would at least do it once a week.
- Where are you going to go?
- How much time are you going to block off for a session?
- How often are your sessions going to be?
- How are you going to have a “conversation” with yourself? I really recommend thinking everything through by journaling or typing out your thoughts.
Have a set of questions to ask yourself when you begin each therapy session. Here are a few questions that I start with to get comfortable with writing and get my brain flowing.
- How am I feeling?
- What’s happened over the past week, and how does that play into the way that I’m feeling?
- What could have gone better?
- What did I do well?
After you get the basic questions down and you move forward into the “deeper” stuff, you should constantly be asking yourself why.
- Why do I think ___?
- Why do I feel ___?
So, you’d start with your first feeling/thought/statement. Ask yourself those questions. Once you have the answer to that question, ask yourself the questions again in reference to the second statement you made. You can do this until you fully comprehend the situation or feeling!
Most importantly, these conversations are supposed to be completely raw. You should write down every feeling that comes to mind – no matter how hard or upsetting it may be to finally admit that to yourself. Just remember, no one else is going to have this information but you. You don’t need to hide from yourself.
Once you’ve gotten to the root of your problems, you need to create an action plan on how to move forward. If you don’t know how to create a good action plan or fix the problem – do some research! For example: You are struggling with anxiety in social situations. So go to Google, and type in how to cure anxiety in social situations or how to get better at speaking in groups.
Another thing that I’ve created is my “go-to” lists. These lists are things that I can do when I’m feeling a certain emotion.
- If I’m feeling sad: Sleep, take a walk, listen to some good music, call a friend, etc.
- If I’m feeling anxious: Take some deep breaths, try to distract my mind with something positive, lay off the coffee, listen to calming sounds or go to a place that makes me feel calm, etc.
- If I’m feeling angry: Do a stress relief workout, take a break from my phone, do something that makes me happy, etc.
Lastly, get advice from others! As I said before, you need to make sure you’re doing your research – because that’s the “advice” you’re receiving from another person (like a therapist would give you). But additionally, you can read books or listen to podcasts regarding the issue, you can follow other people on social media who have learned to cope with the issue, etc.
So, that’s my advice on how to become your own therapist. Again, self-therapy isn’t for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with reaching out for help from someone else. But, if you feel stable enough, this can be a really good tool for you to grow! I know that being my own therapist has changed my life in millions of ways. I’ve learned so much about myself, quit bad habits, formed good ones, and gotten through a lot of tough situations by just writing out my feelings with myself. (If you are a person of faith, I also really recommend writing your prayers out too!) If you try any of these methods in your next self-therapy session, let me know! Have a great week 🙂