The Raphael Remedy

Back to School!

by | Aug 9, 2023 | Counseling

It’s back to school time again. Even though I’m glad every year not to be going back to school, I still see it as a time to regroup and reorganize—a new year of sorts. It’s also a good time to plan some new learning. School may be “formal” education, but let’s face it, most of what we learn in life happens outside of school.

For those of us who grew up without computers, the advent of the computer age forced us to learn a lot of new things. And it continues as things rapidly evolve and change. Building the first website for CatholicTherapists.com in 2001 was a steep learning curve for me. I didn’t even have the vocabulary. I would tell my web designer to use “blue click-ons,” not knowing the word was hyperlinks. It was a challenge, but I’ve come a long way!

When it comes to our emotional health and our relationships, we often stick with what we know and many never take the time to ever learn anything new. “This is the way I am” is often uttered as a way to explain our behavior and in the hopes that others will adapt to us so we don’t need to make any changes. Needless to say, that’s not the most effective approach.

One thing I’ve seen in therapy over the years is this: those who work to learn new ideas and new skills in dealing with their emotions and improving their relationships, are the ones who are most successful in therapy. Those who show up weekly but don’t take time to learn or apply what they’ve learned during the week tend to take longer to see results and some never do.

Learning is a life-long process. As this new school year begins, perhaps resolve to start learning something new. It can be mental health related, relationship skills, or even business or hobby related. Whenever you learn something new in any area, it can impact other areas of your life. For instance, improving business skills can bolster your confidence and self-esteem and that can spill over into how you relate to others, including your spouse. Learning a new hobby or sport can give you an important and enjoyable escape from the pressures of daily life.

I discovered self-help books in my teenage years. My friend’s mom was reading a book called How To Be Your Own Best Friend. I got a copy. It was life changing. Rereading it in later years, it was light and I’ve read much better books since, but starting on that journey of learning truly changed my life.

And although self-help books are not a substitute for therapy, when needed, they set a good foundation for when you are able to start or can put you on the right track and bolster any work you’re doing in therapy. Today with podcasts, learning is easier than ever before.

One resource that I absolutely love is Souls and Hearts, by Catholic Therapists members, Dr. Peter Malinoski and Dr. Gerry Crete. They offer a wealth of information and resources from a solidly Catholic perspective, including a wonderful podcast. I just can’t say enough good things about it.

So as September comes and vacations end, as you settle back into your old routines, consider going back to school and learning something new. You may just feel much younger when you do!

Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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