What to Talk About in Therapy: How to Get the Best Results - Part Three
TRIGGER WARNING – MENTAL, PHYSICAL, AND SEXUAL ABUSE
I am not an expert as a Psychiatrist, Doctor, or Therapist. I am an expert on real-life experiences of having mental illness due to childhood trauma regarding mental, physical, and sexual abuse. I feel confident talking about this subject of therapy because I have been a patient for many years. As always, if you are in crisis or need additional help, please get medical attention immediately.
Here we are with the third part in this series of six parts on what to talk about in therapy. I have so much to say about this! The more information you share with your Therapist, the better they can help you.
I have been in therapy for what seems like my whole life. I have also had to start over a few times, which, believe me, absolutely stinks!!
Each time you start over, your Therapist is getting this information firsthand, you might have told it five times already, but they are just starting with you.
I had an article about what to ask your Therapist on the first session. Be Ahead Of The Game With These Superior Questions To Ask A Therapist.
The next logical step after that article is what you would want to discuss once you start. Some information you might not share right away or you may skim over in the beginning, but as you go on, you need to share more with your Therapist. Know the more you put into therapy, the more you will get out.
Here is the information on those two articles
- Your Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Family History
- Medical Conditions
- Religious Beliefs
- Political views
- Things you want to work on
- Addictions and Bad Habits
- Substance Use History
- Attitudes about Medication
So today, we are going to cover
- Your Childhood
- Your parents and other caregivers
- Relationship History
These topics can literally take you years to cover. I have been in therapy since 2006. It’s 2022, and I am still at it. I still have not entirely covered any of these. Let’s take some time to talk about these, but if you are in the 1st couple of sessions of your therapy, you might want to do the short of it.
We talked about these in the first part of what to talk about in therapy under “family history.”
- Do you have a mom/dad divorced mom/dad mom/mom dad/dad
- Do you have siblings
- Mention other relatives
- Where did you grow up
- Did you move to a different area or areas
This is my whole childhood said in my early therapy sessions.
So I had a Dad/Mom. I have 1 Sister. I grew up with my Mom’s Parents, uncles, Aunts and Cousins, and one very special niece. I grew up in Michigan, and I have never moved.
Now I will share the detailed truth: I had parents, Dad/Mom, who had a very dysfunctional marriage and fought horribly with each other. I have a beautiful sister I thought I protected when I was a small child.
I had a family member who sexually assaulted and raped me from when I was a toddler until I gave birth to my son.
I was mentally abused throughout my youth by this monster saying, “If you don’t be quiet or if you tell anyone, I will do this to your sister.”
Please tell me how a Lil child can always have that on their mind, worrying that you would do anything wrong and your baby sister would be hurt worse. That is mentally F****D up! I am being true here. I can not sugarcoat this because someone needs me to tell it right.
It’s not bad enough that you are being hurt, but putting that mental pressure on you is double wrong! Triple wrong? Yes! I remember being a teen and getting hit with both ends of the belt all over my back and exposed bottom. Physical abuse was all the time as well.
I didn’t remember all of these memories at once. I blocked all my childhood out, and several years ago, it came flooding back to me in the form of nightmares.
I can’t tell my Therapist anything about my childhood except abuse because I don’t remember growing up.
I don’t remember a single barbie I got for Christmas or my first easter basket, how I had no friends in school or how I learned to drive. I know those things because my family told me about them.
You had a great childhood.
If you had a fantastic childhood, you could tell some highlights! Something that you are proud of! Did you sing in your school play? Did you throw the winning touchdown? You can tell her that your brother always picks on you, but nobody better pick on him when I am around! Share something about your family members with your Therapist that will show how they helped take care of you and how you feel about them.
You had a not-so-great childhood.
You might want to share why your childhood was not so good. Did your parents divorce? Did you struggle in school or have a bully? Did you move around a lot and not make friends well?
All these things help to shape the person that you are. Don’t be embarrassed to share your life with your Therapist. Believe me! They have heard EVERYTHING! There is nothing that you can say that they will judge you about.
Your parents and other caregivers
I am going to stay on the happy track for a minute.
Here are a few things you can share about your parents or caregivers
- Some values that they taught you, or they have themselves that you admire.
- How they encouraged you to mature
- If they had jobs or were at home.
- Were they strict or lenient?
- Do you respect them?
- Were they good to you?
You want to include as much information about them as possible.
I am not going to talk about my parents here. It basically comes down to, parents are supposed to protect their children. That is all I am going to say about that.
Here is where you tell your Therapist about past relationships and your current ones. Not only in who you are in love with but relationships with your children, your co-workers, and people you know and don’t know. That means if you are friendly with strangers or if you would rather not be bothered.
I am going to use my life as an example again here. This is my sharing about my relationships.
My relationships have been rough because I come with a lot of baggage. My husband would probably strongly disagree with me because he is my best friend and best friends always look at each other with rose-colored glasses. We have had some downs when dealing with my mental health but many ups regarding life together.
My relationship with my children is complicated, also. My youngest grew up with his father only. He came to me on December 9, 2016. That was the day I met him. He is a warm sweetheart, and I am happy to be able to text and talk to him. Even though we live close by, we rarely see each other.
My oldest son has autism, and he is an adult who lives with me and his stepdad. (I hate typing that because my husband is a DAD to him)
Our relationship is different because I care for him even though he is an adult. He has special needs, so he will most likely not move out independently. He is functioning where I can leave him home alone for short times, but that is it.
I used to work around 2006, but I lost my job due to mental illness. I am currently disabled. I LOVED my co-workers! I had a great relationship with all the people I worked with.
I worked as an assistant terminal manager at a national transportation company. That is a fancy way of saying I helped the truckers move around the 48 states.
Dealing with so many people was fun for me. Truck drivers are very different people. It is a rewarding life but has its challenges. As a manager, you must be prepared to deal with all aspects of truck life.
I love being friendly to strangers. If I see someone with pretty hair, I always stop and compliment them. I love to chat with the cashiers at the grocery store, and I have favorite people I talk to at our local meat market. I would say my relationship with the public is pleasant.
We are now halfway through this series. I have so much more to share with you. If you want to read my story, it is here: Uncover My Account In The Journey Of My Life. If you want to take away one thing from this article, it would be to share your entire life with your Therapist.
They are there to help you deal and cope with everything you need help with and maybe areas you haven’t discovered you need help with yet. My Therapist has helped me with more situations than my initial requested areas.
When you have conversations with your Therapist, they are trained to help identify all areas you may benefit from working on. You may be talking about how someone made you mad in the grocery store, and throughout other conversations, they discover that you don’t deal with the public well. You may have social anxiety.
It is crucial to remember why you are in therapy. They are there to help you, but you need to be open and honest for it to work for you. Your Therapist will only know what you share, so the more, the better!
I found a Reddit of a person who did not know what to talk about in therapy and how they were very frustrated. You might want to check it out. It is here No idea what to talk about in therapy. The OP was very detailed in that they tried to use therapy but were not being directed. There are some excellent comments as well.
The other parts of this series are here.