As a counsellor sometimes it is important to remember to check in with our clients on what they do and do not like about the sessions we have. What does and does not work, what they perceive to be a success vs what us as the therapist see as success. I find that sometimes there can be vast differences between what I viewed as successful for a client vs what they viewed as successful for them.
I found it also important to note that how a client views their mental health and how they conceptualise it is important for a therapist to properly treat and understand. Below is a small piece by a long term client of mine, and posted here with her permission.
"Mental and physical health work as two parts of a whole, but how do they work in tune with one another? Think about an anxiety attack. The stress is all mental, yet, our palms get sweaty, our body temperature rises, and our chest begins to tighten. Although this can feel like a heart attack, it’s important to place the “blame” for these symptoms where it belongs; our brain. This is just one of the many ways we see the body and the brain working together.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, but after many sessions with Mattaya, I now have many tools at my disposal to help keep my fears from running my life. We will likely never rid ourselves of fear and anxiety, but we can manage it while taking back control of our lives. Balancing our mental and physical health may be difficult, but considering the alternative, I think we owe it to ourselves to try."
I want to highlight a few things from the above passage:
She chooses to link mental and physical health as partners and views her experience from a holistic perspective.
She brings her own conceptualisation of the physical experiences into her explanations by talking about how anxiety can feel like heart attack.
She talks about mental and physical health being a balance. This is important when looking at her specific treatment as some clients may view one as more influential to the other, for example, mental health is the cause of all physical symptoms or the reverse.
This review of her experience and how she sees her progress and success is vital to how I continue to work with her or any other patient. I think as therapists it is our responsibility to check in with our clients and really make sure we understand how our clients approach a problem so that we can best help them.