The Value of Persisting with Therapy: The Journey to Lasting Change

Natalie Buchwald, LMHCTherapy

Starting therapy is a courageous step toward improving your mental and emotional well-being. However, as with any worthwhile endeavor, it requires persistence, patience, and a commitment to your goals.

Therapy is not a quick fix but a journey of gradual, meaningful change.

This post is designed to inspire and motivate you to keep going. Even when challenges arise. And to help you understand the profound long-term benefits of staying committed to your therapeutic journey. By embracing resilience, setting clear goals, and adopting a growth mindset, you can achieve lasting transformation and lead a fulfilling life.

I. The power of Persistence in therapy

    Persistence in psychology is the continued effort to achieve a goal despite obstacles, failures, or setbacks.

    In therapy, persistence means showing up for sessions every week, even when it’s tough or inconvenient.

    Therapy is a journey, not a destination.

    It’s about making small, incremental changes that add up over time, rather than expecting instant transformation. This gradual approach leads to profound and lasting change. When you commit to showing up for your sessions, even when you don’t feel like it, you’re investing in your future well-being.

    A. Set Goals and Remember Your Purpose

      You’ve decided to go to therapy with specific goals in mind. When you feel like giving up, remember why you first decided to start therapy. This sense of purpose is key to sticking with it, even when life makes it more challenging to honor your commitment to therapy and self-care.

      Tips for Staying Motivated:

      • Set Clear, Achievable Goals: Work with your therapist to define what you want to accomplish.
      • Break Down Goals into Smaller Steps: Focus on small victories you can accomplish every day to keep momentum.
      • Reflect on Progress: Regularly review your achievements and reassess your goals with your therapist.

      B. Adopt a Growth Mindset

      A growth mindset involves recognizing your capacity to tolerate negativity as a sign of strength. It’s about believing that you can learn and grow from every experience, especially the challenging ones. In contrast, a defeated mindset views negative events as setbacks and dwells on them.

      By adopting a growth mindset, you transform hardships into opportunities for growth, ultimately building your resilience.

      Practical Tips for a Growth Mindset:

      • Embrace Curiosity: Be open to discovering new things about yourself.
      • Look for the Silver Linings: Identify the positive aspects you can take from each situation.
      • Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and reward yourself for progress, no matter how small.

      C. Incremental Change Over Radical Shifts

      Therapy is not about making radical, unsustainable changes in your life. Instead, it’s about moving the needle bit by bit. Slow, incremental change is often more effective and lasting than drastic shifts. By embracing this approach, you can create a solid foundation for continued growth and improvement.

      The Power of Showing Up

      One of the most challenging aspects of therapy is showing up, especially when you don’t want to. It’s during these times that you might experience the most significant breakthroughs.

      By challenging yourself to do the hard things, you build resilience, gain control, and develop discipline over your life.

      II. Cultivating Resilience: the Key to Lasting Change

      A. Resilience: A Measure of Health

          One of the key benefits of persisting with therapy is the development of resilience.

          Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and continue moving forward, even in the face of adversity. It’s a measure of your mental and emotional health.

          By persistently working through your challenges in therapy, you build resilience, which helps you handle future difficulties with greater ease and confidence.

          B. Relentless Self-Discipline

          Staying committed to therapy requires self-discipline. It’s about scheduling time to work on things that are not working. Its about facing reality head on, instead of distracting yourself.

          This self-discipline might feel like suffering at times, but it’s crucial for your growth. On the other side of this discomfort lies a stronger, more resilient you.

          C. Developing a Can-Do Attitude

          Doing hard things helps you develop a can-do attitude. It’s about creating a positive dialogue with yourself and overcoming negative self-talk. We are often our own worst critics, but therapy provides a space to address and challenge these doubts.

          Whatever your objectives in therapy, you can achieve them as long as you persist.

          D. Committing to Your Best Life

          Committing to therapy means holding yourself accountable to your goals. It’s a big step toward advancing in the direction of emotional and mental well-being.

          By showing up every week, you’re actively working toward living a life that aligns with your values and aspirations.

          E. Sustainable Change Through Persistence

          Ultimately, therapy is about creating sustainable change in your life. This process takes time and requires a steadfast commitment to your goals. By persisting with therapy, you’re giving yourself the best chance to achieve lasting improvement and live a fulfilling life.

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          III. Strategies for Success: Navigating the Path to Emotional Well-being

            A. Building Resilience Through Positive Emotions and Self-Talk

              Increasing positive emotions daily is a powerful strategy for building resilience. By identifying things that bring you joy or make you laugh, cultivating gratitude, and acknowledging your accomplishments, you can significantly boost your emotional well-being.

              Finding silver linings in everyday situations helps shift your mindset and reduce negative thinking. A study shows that doing this daily for three weeks leads to greater well-being, especially for those initially pessimistic.

              Monitoring your inner dialogues is crucial. Doubt and self-criticism are persistent companions, but countering negative self-talk with positive self-talk is vital for maintaining your commitment to therapy and personal growth. Engaging in positive self-talk is not just good mental hygiene; it plays a pivotal role in helping you stay the course and remain dedicated to making improvements in your life.

              Be intentional about recalibrating the balance between positive and negative thoughts. According to Barbara Fredrickson Ph.D, a 3 to 1 ratio of positivity is ideal. It takes three positive thoughts to overcome a single negative one.

              Negative emotions can be discouraging, but who knows how far you can go if you stay committed to therapy and keep showing up?

              Positive emotions are a significant driver of the “bounce back effect,” another term for resilience. By fostering positive self-talk, you enhance your ability to recover from setbacks and continue progressing toward your goals. Embrace the power of positivity to build your resilience and achieve lasting change through therapy.

              B. Addressing Self-Doubt and Embracing a Positive Reality

              Self-doubt is a natural reaction to any attempt to change your life for the better. It’s essential to acknowledge these feelings but not let them bring you down.

              Instead, use therapy to explore and address these doubts.

              Consider and embrace the possibility of a positive future where you succeed. Ask yourself,

              What if?

              What if I reach my goals and succeed?

              Dare to take your dreams seriously and pursue them courageously. Opening up to a positive reality and envisioning successful outcomes allows you to dream big and stay motivated on your path to achieving your goals.

              C. Face Your Fears and Overcome Emotional Avoidance

              Facing your fears is a crucial component of building resilience and achieving your therapy goals.

              Emotional avoidance, or the attempt to control and avoid unpleasant emotions, can prevent you from fully processing and coping with life’s challenges.

              With a therapist, you are supported in the process of facing difficult emotions. You are not alone, and this supportive environment is ideal for confronting and working through these emotions, ultimately helping you persevere in therapy and reaching your therapy goals.

              D. Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone and Challenging Emotional Avoidance

              Stepping outside your comfort zone is often necessary for growth. Therapy provides a safe space to explore uncomfortable emotions while offering the support and guidance you need. This balance allows you to push your boundaries and develop the resilience required to thrive.

              Many of us are hardwired for emotional avoidance, often failing to recognize that the emotion we’re feeling is fear. We might jump to binge-watch TV, scroll through social media, or seek quick dopamine boost in junk food.

              To break this cycle, start by noticing the fear in your body.

              What does it feel like?

              Where do you feel it?

              Any form of physical discomfort is often where you’ll find it.

              Interestingly, this mindful attention to the body sensation can significantly reduce their intensity, making the fear more bearable—this is resilience in action.

              By confronting your fears and uncomfortable feelings in therapy, you develop resilience and gain control over your emotional responses. Your therapist provides a safe space to explore these emotions, helping you understand and address them effectively. Overcoming emotional avoidance is crucial for making consistent progress in therapy and reaching your therapy goals. As your capacity to face fear increases, you’ll find yourself becoming more resilient and better equipped to handle life’s challenges.

              E. Learn and Grow from Fear

              Facing your fears allows you to learn important lessons about yourself. Once you start facing your fears, you quickly realize that fear lives in your imagination.

              The realization that fear is more imagined than real is a significant step forward in helping you face your fears with less resistance.

              The more you become comfortable with the discomfort of facing your fears, the more you increase your capacity to challenge yourself with greater ease.

              This growth is essential for persevering in therapy and achieving your long-term goals.

              Another approach is to treat your fear as a friend along for the ride. Reframe the emotion of fear from something scary to something akin to excitement.

              Therapy is incredibly effective at facilitating small, incremental changes that feel manageable rather than overwhelming.

              Your primary responsibility is:

              • To show up and
              • be honest about your feelings.

              Your therapist will take on the essential role of guiding you through this gradual journey of progress, ensuring that each step is both supportive and transformative. By consistently engaging in this process, you can achieve meaningful and lasting improvements in your mental and emotional well-being.

              Learn to love slow progress and to be kind to yourself during inevitable setbacks.

              One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. Slow and steady. Just keep at it.

              Each time you push through fear, you empower yourself and build your inner strength.

              Over time, this practice increases your resilience, self-awareness, and confidence. The external world might not become less scary, but with the support of your therapist, you will become more skilled at facing and overcoming your fears.

              Therapy provides the ideal environment to safely navigate these challenges, fostering personal growth and emotional resilience. Persisting in therapy and facing your fears head-on are crucial steps toward reaching your therapy goals and achieving lasting change.

              F. How Long is Too Long in Therapy?

              The question “How long is too long in therapy?” often misses the point. A more useful set of questions to ask are:

              How has my ability to cope with stress changed since starting therapy?

              Have my anxiety symptoms diminished?

              Do I feel more in control of my emotions and reactions?

              Has my overall well-being improved?

              Have I reached my goals?

              Therapy is a tool for achieving success in life.

              To give therapy a fair shot usually requires 8-12 months of continuous weekly sessions. This weekly practice can help you get unstuck, build meaningful relationships, gain confidence, and increase your well-being over time.

              As you accomplish some goals, new ones might emerge. As long as therapy is helping you improve your mental and emotional health, there’s every reason to stick with what works.

              The focus should be on the tangible progress and benefits you experience, rather than a fixed timeline. Regularly assessing your progress and discussing it with your therapist can help ensure that therapy continues to be a valuable resource for your well-being.

              Conclusion

              Therapy is a powerful tool for personal growth and transformation, but it requires persistence, resilience, and a commitment to pursue your goals.

              By showing up every week, challenging yourself to do the hard things, and developing a positive dialogue with yourself, you can achieve significant, lasting change.

              Embrace the journey, stay patient, and remember that the value of persisting with therapy is immeasurable.

              Each session is an investment in a brighter, healthier future for yourself. Stay dedicated, keep pushing forward, and celebrate the progress you make along the way. You are on a path to living a more fulfilling and balanced life, one step at a time.

              Bonus Exercise to Increase Resilience

              The 4 S’s for Resilience

              One effective way to develop resilience is to draw on the strengths and wisdom you’ve gained from past experiences.

              The 4 S’s—Supports, Strategies, Sagacity, and Solutions—offers a powerful framework to help you recall what worked for you before and apply those insights to current challenges.

              Reflect on Past Successes

              Think back to a time when you overcame a significant challenge.

              • What supports did you rely on?
              • What strategies did you use?
              • What wisdom (sagacity) did you hold onto?
              • What solutions did you find?

              By reflecting on these questions, you can tap into your personal resilience resources and harness them to navigate your present situation with confidence and strength.

              Ready to commit to better mental health? At Manhattan Mental Health Counseling, we offer flexible, online therapy tailored to your needs. Our experienced therapists accept various health insurance plans, making our services affordable.

              Take the next step today. Call 212-960-8626 or complete our contact form to schedule your first session. Start your journey to a healthier future with us.

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