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  • Raija Itzchaki

World Mental Health Day October 10, 2023 - What is Therapy?

On this World Mental Health Day, we are re-releasing this article about what Therapy is, written by Cathleen Coppola, MSW, CAP - GreenLifeIOP's Substance Abuse Counselor and Primary Therapist

THERAPY. Oops, I’ve gone and written it, it’s out there…the big scary word. Is anyone still with me? If you are, you’ve already taken a huge step toward becoming a whole and healthy person.

Most people in active addiction continue to use drugs because of fear. Many people give up drugs, but continue their lives in misery because of fear. It has been my experience that what most people are afraid of is talking about their past, whether it be abuse they’ve suffered, or things they may have done in their addiction that cause them a great amount of guilt and shame. Many people shy away from treatment and/or therapy because of this fear.

The problem with not talking about and processing these issues with a trained professional is that the trauma doesn’t go away, it will stay with you until you decide to cope with it in a healthy way, relapse, or switch your addiction to another unhealthy behavior.

The thought of talking about our past can be very overwhelming. I tell my clients to imagine a big library. Now think about each experience in your life as a separate book (If you’re like most of us, you’re in a very big library). Now, if you talked about all of your experiences in one session, it would be overwhelming; all the books (your experiences) would fall on top of you and you would suffocate; you can’t do it all at once, and that is o.k. Imagine that each time you sit down to talk to your counselor you select one book from your library. You then sit down and begin reading from your book. Sometimes, you might read a whole chapter, sometimes a paragraph, and sometimes you may only be able to read a few words and that is ok too. Sometimes, you may have to re-read a paragraph from the previous week…that’s ok too.

That’s what therapy is. Therapy is not to be rushed; you never have to talk about more than you can handle. Don’t be afraid of it. Your past will always be with you, but it doesn’t have to continue to consume you.

- Cathleen Coppola MSW, CAP

Cathleen (Cat) Coppola is one of GreenLife's Therapists. She works as a Substance Abuse Counselor and Primary Therapist. Cat has a Master's degree in Social Work, specializing in addiction studies, and she is also a Certified Addictions Professional. She has over 13 years of experience in the Addiction and Substance Abuse field, having worked in various settings from Detox to Outpatient, as a Therapist and Counselor, as well as Clinical Director for two different recovery centers. Cat provides group and individual therapy at GreenLife.

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