Unlike our physical condition, the state of our mental health can be hard to judge. As such, for those who are considering starting therapy in Singapore, it’s natural that you may ask: how do I know if my counselling sessions are working?
The effects of going for therapy can’t be seen or felt instantaneously. In fact, it may take more than a couple of sessions, when you’re speaking to a therapist or mental wellness coach in Singapore, before you see the effects of getting professional mental health support. Even so, there are a few ways that you can tell if going for counselling has helped to boost your mental health.
You recognise a positive change in yourself
You feel better
The easiest way to know if therapy is working for you is if you find yourself in a better mood and more positive mindset, since you started your counselling sessions in Singapore.
This could manifest itself in many different ways. For example, you may wake up one day and feel lighter, as if the weight on your chest is gone; or perhaps, you may find that you’re able to take on new challenges at work, without a negative, critical voice talking you down.
On the other hand, feeling uncomfortable can be a sign of progress too. In therapy, you may be asked to face difficult emotions and ideas – things that you may have been actively trying to avoid thinking about on your own – and this can be an uncomfortable and even upsetting process. In that way, it’s a misconception to think that therapy is all about feeling better – it’s important to acknowledge that this discomfort is an integral part of growth too.
Your relationships have improved
Oftentimes, when we’re distressed, we may end up withdrawing from our loved ones or lashing out at them. In fact, it could even have been your friends and family who had noticed a change in you and had gently asked if you’d consider seeking professional help.
As you learn how to better process your emotions in therapy, you may find your relationships with your loved ones improving as well. Through therapy, you not only expand your emotional bandwidth but also learn how to communicate your feelings and emotions better. All these are useful skills in maintaining and improving relationships with those around you.
You have better coping mechanisms
Even as we go to therapy, life doesn’t stop. It’s inevitable that we’ll come face to face with challenging situations. It could be a sudden increase in workload at our jobs or having an argument with a close friend. Pre-therapy, you may have found yourself unable to deal or cope with these situations effectively.
A sign that going for therapy in Singapore has been paying off is if you notice a shift in your attitude and behaviours in challenging situations. For example, are there changes in how you cope and are these more productive, compared to how you used to react?
A part of therapy is learning effective and productive coping mechanisms – which could be something as small as taking a couple of deep breath to calm your mind before reacting. If you’re able to put this into practice, it shows that you’re internalising what you’re learning during your sessions. You may not feel 100% better each time, but the more you practise, the more you’ll experience the pay-off of using these coping techniques.
You feel supported by your therapist
The effectiveness of therapy is influenced by your relationship with your mental health professional, such as your therapist or counsellor. This bond is called the ‘therapeutic alliance’, and it refers to how you and your therapist are able to work together, in order to achieve your mental health goals.
A strong therapeutic alliance includes a good sense of rapport and a strong feeling of trust. You’ll also feel comfortable and supported, even when you’re sharing difficult topics or being challenged (in a productive way) about ideas that you have. There is honest, transparent conversation between you and your therapist about the good, the bad, and especially the ugly.
Your goals may change over the course of therapy – and that’s alright
‘Success’ in therapy is deeply personal and looks different for everyone! After all, there are different reasons why someone may choose to look for a therapist or counsellor in Singapore.
During your first session of therapy, your therapist may have asked about your mental health goals and what you want to achieve throughout your sessions. This can also be a measure of ‘success’ for you, to know whether therapy is working.
With a strong therapeutic alliance, you and your therapist are both aligned on the approach you would be taking to work on your mental health. As your therapist is a partner in your mental health journey, they would then be able to give feedback on whether they think you’re making progress on your goals.
Another thing that may happen during therapy is that over the course of your sessions, your own goals and motivations may change. That’s perfectly natural as the purpose of therapy is meant for you to process your emotions and thoughts – and with that, comes reflection, growth and individual change. As such, your measure of ‘success’ may also shift, and that’s something you should also bring up to your therapist, so that you can assess if any changes in therapy approach may be required.
Honestly, it may take a while before you experience the positive effects of therapy. Even so, speaking to a mental health professional is an invaluable resource should you want to improve your mental health.
If you’re hoping to get started on your mental health journey, we’re here to help you with finding a therapist in Singapore.
Whether it’s a therapist for depression or a counsellor for family therapy, we’ll match you with a mental health professional who best suits your needs. All you need to do is fill in our client-matching form, and we’ll take care of the rest.
An experienced health & wellness writer, I am a story-teller at heart. For me, writing is a way of weaving together the little details that make our existence meaningful and significant into a beautiful, larger story.