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Pondering therapy: Thinker on a Rock, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.

At my last therapy appointment, Hippie Dude brought up the question yet again: what do I want to get out of this? The patient, he says, is the one in charge, and the goal of therapy is to not be in therapy. I’ve gotten past the most recent major stressor and although others are coming up shortly, what next?

I’ve been trying to figure out what to say when I go back next week. Part of the agreement with DBT is to stay in individual therapy, so at least a monthly check-in is in order. I’ve never been certain as to what I should get out of the whole therapy thing. At the same time, I’m not sure I’m “ready” to leave that safety net behind.

So here’s my short list of things to do in therapy:

  1. Manage and reduce anxiety and stress: I’ve seen tip sheet after tip sheet. I’d like something that actually works, please. Something realistic, not just “take a hot bath.”
  2. Figure out triggers: I know a few of them, like getting shorted on sleep or changing time zones, and apparently copious sunshine sets me off too. There’s got to be more to it than that. I’d like to know what to watch out for, but I don’t know where to look.
  3. Detect symptoms and intervene: Much like item #2, I’d like to know what’s coming when it’s on its way. Figuring out prodromal symptoms and having a plan for managing the situation when they arise would be really helpful.

I could probably figure this stuff out on my own. But I don’t sit down and think, gosh, what are my triggers? I’m not good at drawing out the right details. I don’t have experience putting together a plan of action for situations that I’m barely conscious are unfolding. So I think that these are good goals for therapy moving forward.