Coffee, Tea, or Choosing Effective Therapy (Part 2)

MS is a lot to handle. There are a plethora of symptoms that are attributed to this chronic, and often debilitating, disease. As I stated in my article Coffee, Tea, or Therapy (Part 1), "From being diagnosed; to the flare-ups and exacerbations; to worsening old then new symptoms; to its uncertainty and unpredictability; to snatching your functionality and independence; it is definitely not unusual to feel frustration, stress, anxiety, distress, anger, or fear of the unknown." Just like taking advantage of assistive devices if needed to aid us physically, assistance to strengthen our mental well-being is also very important. And just like ensuring our equipment is suitable for proper support, it is of equal importance for therapy, if needed, to be effective for us.

There is no shame in enlisting professional support

For anyone with MS who may be suffering with depression, anxiety, or emotional unrest, there is no shame in obtaining professional support. We deserve all the assistance necessary to help us through the tough times MS brings and to live our best lives. Sharing with our primary care physician and/or neurologist how we are feeling will likely lead them to suggest - or encourage - professional counseling (therapy.) Appropriate therapy for living with MS would likely focus on the identification and shifting of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that may contribute to emotional distress so many of us feel at some point or another. This type of therapy is called cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Tips when seeking effective therapy

Personal experience allows me to know several tips on securing effective therapy and a therapist who is a good fit for you that I am happy to share below.

To begin, although the thoughts of securing a therapist that looks like you (race, sex, etc.) might seem logical, be cognizant that just because they look like you does not automatically make them the right fit. It's how you feel in the relationship.

Questions to ask yourself when evaluating a therapist

Some questions you may ask yourself are:

  • Do you feel safe - emotionally, mentally, and physically - with your therapist during the session?
  • Is the therapeutic relationship collaborative, respectful, and strong?
  • Does your therapist have the necessary experience and/or is trained in the area you are presenting with?
  • Does your therapist lead you in ways to understand your emotions?
  • Does your therapist assist you in ways to think differently?
  • Does your therapist teach, guide you in ways to behave differently?
  • Does your therapist welcome questions?
  • Does your therapist ask things like, "Do you understand your diagnosis?" "How are you feeling in session today?" or "Is anything we discussed challenging to understand?"

If you are feeling uneasy or not understanding anything, be sure to ask questions, seek clarity.

It may take time to determine if a therapist is a good fit

And lastly, be cognizant that sometimes it may take a few sessions to build a comfortable relationship with a therapist, so be open to giving the therapist another chance. However, when all else fails and you feel you're not getting what you need, seek a new therapist because it is definitely important to find the right fit.

Just remember that when a good, old fashioned venting session over a cup of coffee or tea with a kind, sympathetic friend or family member is not quite enough for our mental and emotional needs, effective therapy can be the key to support needed through this MonStrous trajectory.

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