A lot of my clients are first-timers and have never gone to therapy before.
They are often wondering what therapy looks like. Is it as distant and sterile as it’s portrayed in TV shows? What if I don’t mesh with this therapist? Will it help? How does this all work?
Sometimes they feel shame or stigmatized about seeking therapy in the first place. They are trying to sort out how they can trust a complete stranger with their deepest fears and emotions. They are wondering how spewing their guts every week would actually help.
But they are also not sure what else to do. So they show up anyway. It can feel vulnerable and awkward.
These are fair questions and all these feelings are completely normal.
So let’s get a few things out of the way.
While therapy is a serious and deep experience, it doesn’t have to be cold and stiff nor feel overly clinical. It can even be fun or exciting at times. Most importantly, for it to work best you need to feel like you can have a positive, co-working relationship with this therapist. More on that in the next post, but at the very least you should feel like you click with your therapist.
Whether therapy helps – well, that depends on the relationship you and your therapist build. The biggest indicator of the effectiveness of therapy is the relationship. Not the methods. What a misnomer, right?
In a lot of ways, talk therapy can feel like venting, but that’s where your therapist helps you out. They help by gently drawing attention to patterns in your life and in your relationships. They ask questions or offer activities that can help you think in different ways about your life and get in touch with your core values.
By cultivating more self-awareness you gain more moments of choice. In unearthing what really matters to you, you gain more choices in how you respond.
So it might feel like venting at first, but it becomes an active process of illumination. Like a Venting Transformer. It’s rad.
And for what it’s worth, those who seek therapy are some of the most healthy people I have ever met. Through their curiosity, concern, drive and hard work they make real and lasting change in their lives. They grow even more resilient and are better able to adapt in the face of life’s challenges.
Also, going to therapy takes courage. We already know there can be a lot of stigma – so that can be an uphill battle in and of itself. You have to have some nerve to face your stuff head on despite all this stigma. And then to allow another person to bear witness to it? Talk about BRAVE AS FUCK.
Just in case you are wondering, I, like many therapists, believe that therapy can be a benefit to anyone. A process that enables you let go of the shit that no longer serves you and helps you be the best version of yourself? Sign me up!
None of use come out of childhood completely unscathed. We all have something to work on. Something that nags at us. Something that disempowers us or makes us feel like we aren’t able to be ourselves. There’s always something.
But the thing is – you have to choose it. You really do.
It’s hard work and the way it works is through choice. Don’t do it because others are telling you to or because you think something is wrong with you. (There’s more right with you than wrong with you in the first place). Do it because you want it and you want to get something out of it. By getting clear on that piece, you will help your therapist hone in on what’s most important to you and expedite the process.
Oh, and if you end up telling some little white lies in those initial sessions? Don’t feel guilty about it – it’s common. Just come clean once therapy feels like a safe space (if it’s even relevant or you want to).
We don’t expect you to trust us wholly from start – we understand that trust is earned.
If, for whatever reason, you are not feeling like this therapist is “the one” for you. Don’t be afraid to move on. And don’t be afraid to tell your therapist either.
For one, your therapist is not going to take it personal. This is part of their training, so don’t worry about hurting their feelings. Secondly, if you let your therapist know what’s not working for you they can help you find a therapist who would be a better fit for you. Which makes the search for the right therapist a heck of a lot easier.
Take your time, trust your gut and don’t be afraid to move on. You are looking for that click. It may take a little work, but the right therapist for you is definitely out there.