You Can’t Hurry Recovery

With apologies to The Supremes who sang “You can’t Hurry Love“, this version came to me during a session with a client last week. I don’t think it is quite as compelling as the original, but the sentiments are important.

We can often give a good estimation of recovery times for a range of physical health problems, but it is notoriously difficult to do this for psychological problems. Clients, perhaps influenced by friends and family, usually have unrealistic expectations about how long the process of recovery can be. When they see that they are not recovering within these timescales, they often become more anxious and depressed. The pressing need to recover becomes an additional stress which, unsurprisingly, becomes a mantle that weighs them down further and contributes to a sense of hopelessness.

My message is an attempt to help clients put this mantle aside. I have likened recovery to a seedling taking root or to a flower blossoming. These natural processes unfold in nature’s time, but they can sometimes be helped along a little by tender care from the gardener. In this sense, therapy can be seen as a kind of fertiliser to promote the growth of recovery.

Luckily for my clients, I have not yet attempted to sing nor turned up to a session in gardening gloves.

 

Emotional plumbing

It is sometimes difficult to help clients understand that the first priority is to tackle the day to day episodes of emotional distress they experience before trying to work on aspects of their early life that might be underlying their current difficulties.

It is like dealing with a plumbing emergency. The first task is to stop the water gushing out of the pipe. This is the equivalent of using mood management stategies in the heat of the moment to control the emotional flow. Only then can we begin to look at the system as a whole to understand what is causing the pressure to build up – the equivalent of identifying the factors that contribute to a person’s emotional vulnerability.

You should see me in action with my cognitive wrench!