Some time ago my friend Jeff (not his real name) started seeing a therapist once a week, after finding himself struggling with anxiety and depression.
Things had got off to a positive start, Jeff said.
He felt as if he and his therapist were going to get along.
That seems to be one of the main keys to getting the most from therapy – if you and your counsellor have a good rapport, it’s an indication that the process could be rewarding.
The therapist began by getting Jeff to talk about his background, and his life at the moment, as well as some of the more memorable things that had brought him to where he was.
I suspect this is fairly normal, and seems a pretty sensible procedure.
Jeff had mentioned a physical health problem that had cropped up a few years back, but as he and I chatted, it occurred to us that there had been little or no talk about the extent to which he’d been taking care of himself.
No discussion about his diet (although Jeff’s therapist did ask him about smoking, drinking, and other types of pharmaceutical use – mainstream or ‘self prescribed’).
No conversation about the amount of exercise he took (or in Jeff’s case, didn’t).
No questions about his weight, or his aches and pains.
I don’t think this is in any sense a criticism of Jeff’s therapist – psychotherapy tends to do as its name suggests: it focuses on the psyche, leaving physiological matters to the family doctor who, in turn, may not ask too many questions about what’s going on in a patient’s mind (often because a physician simply doesn’t have the time – or even, on occasion, the skill – to delve into psychological matters).
Who, then, has responsibility for the meeting point of Jeff’s mind and body?
Just one person, we decided, and that’s Jeff himself.
Perhaps we need to learn from this?
At the end of the day, who’s going to take care of your body, and look after your mind?
You know, I think that mainly has to be your job.