To be honest, I’m not big on conventional therapy. Now, that does not mean that I don’t think some people benefit from it or even need it, but I don’t believe it works for everyone. For myself, perhaps it doesn’t work as well because I have already read so many psychology and self help books that I know what is likely to be said anyhow. When I was a foster parent, therapy never seemed to do much for any of the kids who were forced to go. In their cases, I think it didn’t work that well because they didn’t want to be there so they didn’t cooperate or act on the advice given them. If you do go the traditional therapy route, I think it is important to find a therapist who will give you tangible strategies to apply to real life situations and (even more importantly) you have to be willing to put in the work and do those things.
Personally, I have been to therapy a couple times in my life. The first time was when I was 12 and my dad died. That was forced therapy that didn’t go very far because I didn’t want to talk about it and no one could make me. The second time I went to therapy was after my sister committed suicide. I do feel that talking through my feelings with a professional helped some in that case, but it wasn’t what healed me. Looking back on the rough patches in my life, I have found that some of the most effective forms of therapy aren’t those you find in a therapist’s office. Here are a few of the “therapeutic” activities I feel have had the greatest impact on my life:
- Spending time with family and friends, even when I thought I would rather be alone. Sometimes when you don’t feel like seeing anyone is when you need their support the most.
- Spending time with animals. For me this starts with my pets but extends to living creatures everywhere. Animals speak to my soul on a level I can’t even explain and bring great comfort and joy.
- Spending time in nature – this kind of goes along with the animal one. Being around bodies of water works best for me personally, but everyone has their own favorite spots, even if it is just your own backyard or a neighborhood park.
- Music – all types of music can be therapeutic depending on what you are feeling. I have my “sad”, “angry”, “happy”, “relaxing” and “inspirational” songs to help me through whatever I am dealing with.
- Creating – whether it be writing, painting, drawing, baking, etc., it is a great way to release feelings.
- Getting lost in fantasy – leaving this real world mentally for a short period of time (through a book, movie, etc.) can be incredibly helpful during awful times.
- Exercise. The key to this for me is doing things that I enjoy and find relaxing, such as walking, hiking, yoga, etc.
- Meditation/prayer – connecting to my spiritual self helps me to rise above my earthly troubles and find inner peace even in the midst of chaos.
So what about you? What kinds of “therapy” do you find most healing?