Mental Health Therapy is called a soft science because it cannot be quantified the way medicine can. When you start the process of therapy, it feels like you’re having a casual conversation. Some days you have huge epiphanies and tears, and other days you can’t figure out why you paid someone just to chit chat. Inevitably, you will have that moment where you question the validity of the whole experience and ask yourself “is this even working? Am I getting better?” You may ask how you can tell that it’s working. Are there ways to know if the self-care and work you are doing are beneficial?
Emotional growth can’t be quantified in ways that other milestones can. When you work with a physical or personal trainer, you can take before and after pictures. Growth in knowledge can be reflected in the results of a test. But with emotional growth, how can you tell if your efforts are producing fruit?
The truth is, healing can be an ugly process. Battling through your issue can be emotional and often confusing. It’s a lengthy process at times and can even embarrassing. You find that the coping skills that worked before now prove futile. You call people asking to validate your feelings because surely it can’t be normal to feel this horrible.
In theory, taking the time to do the emotional work that leads to healing sounds euphoric and tranquil. But really, healing is about owning your bad habits and shifting your mindset. It’s about no longer running from that hurtful memory, but instead confronting it to slow down and acknowledge that this thing did more than hurt you. It indeed broke you. It’s looking at your memories with a sober view of yourself. One that now allows you to see those hurtful moments that you tried to pretend did not exist. Healing is acknowledging that you need help and then asking for it from every possible source, including your friends, family, co-workers and HR services, God, internet research or even a Facebook poll. Healing is the process of understanding what is happening and no longer running from your big emotions, but slowing down and letting them flow through you. Healing is feeling.
Still not sure? Here are 10 indicators of the healing process
1. Able to visualize a positive future
2. Able to share your story without tears
3. You find more moments of joy in your day
4. You feel more like "yourself"
5. Other people notice changes in you
6. You gravitate towards peace and away from chaos
7. You are able to set healthy boundaries
8. You recognize that it is an ugly process, but you aren't quitting
9. Able to acknowledge your emotions
10. Have more clarity in your thoughts and actions