Getting into therapy can be a very scary experience. You meet with someone you’ve never met, you share with her things you’ve don’t typically share, and she asks you questions you don’t typically get asked. Welcome to therapy: one of the most vulnerable experiences one will ever encounter. How can one ever be ready for this?
When it comes entering therapy, there are a handful of reasons to make that first appointment. First, are you struggling with strong emotions such as fear, worry, sadness, or worthlessness? Are these emotions getting in the way of your daily living? Sometimes it may be even difficult to get out of bed. One might wonder, Am I the only person going through this?” Well, you are not alone. There are many who report such things. Are you struggling with an addiction? Do you keep using something to cope and it is having negative consequences. Have you tried to stop and failed repeatably always swearing off, “this is the last time,” only to return to it again and again?
Secondly, are you noticing certain patterns in your life where you keep making the same mistakes or decisions that have negative results? Perhaps you keep dating that certain person who you know is bad for you but you do it anyway. Or maybe you keep hearing the same negative voice in your head that beats you up every time you make a mistake at work. You want to make a change but don’t really know how. You want to understand this voice, but it just keeps coming back and makes you feel worse every time. It might be time then to try counseling.
Therapy or counseling can be helpful in a number of ways. When it comes to counseling, some think of it as getting advice from an expert who can guide you or give you new information to help you reach your goals. I like to think of therapy not so much as I am the expert you are my student and you must learn from me. Rather, I am a mirror and I will reflect back to you what I am seeing (your strengths, areas of struggle, and patterns) and help you to see yourself more clearly. Then, I will help you find ways to change the areas that you want to change believing that you have everything within your ability to implement.
Counseling can be helpful in helping you process events from your past in an accepting and non-judgmental environment where you are free to be honest and vulnerable. Sometimes around close friends or even family, to be vulnerable is a big risk. Friends and family aren’t trained in how to be empathetic and though they make attempts at trying to be kind, their responses and feedback sometimes are just not helpful. One of the most powerful tools of therapy is empathy. With empathy one will feel understood, accepted. This powerful tool has the ability to make one not feel alone and more importantly, felt known.
Finally, therapy ultimately is about a relationship. In every relationship there must be chemistry. Not every therapist is for you, just like not every person in your circle is your close friend or confidant. If you enter therapy and it doesn’t feel right, it might be because you are not connecting with your therapist. If you ever concerned about this, most therapists provide free 30 minute consultations. Give one a call, get a feel for them as you talk, and if it doesn’t feel good, try again. Though counseling can be one of the most vulnerable things you’ll ever do, it can also be one of the most rewarding.