The cold, leather couch. The judgmental replies. The half-hearted questions your therapist asks while they doodle on their notepad. You’ve probably heard these therapy stereotypes before, which makes the thought of sharing your darkest secrets with a stranger that much more daunting. The decision to seek professional counseling is rarely an easy one, especially when there’s a general lack of clarity about what the therapy process is really like.
The unknowns, “what ifs,” and misconceptions about mental health counseling may be barriers to you getting help, which is why we made a list of five things your therapist wants you to know before your first appointment.
1. Going to Therapy Does Not Make You “Crazy” or “Weak”
People go to therapy for all kinds of reasons: to retrain their brains, to cope with grief and loss, to become more effective communicators, or to learn more about themselves – and that’s just the short list. Therapy is often seen as a last resort for “crazy” or “weak” people, but that couldn’t be less true. Choosing to take control of your mental health is one of the most proactive ways to ensure your overall wellbeing and often takes quite a bit of courage.
2.It Can Take Time to Find the Right Therapist
You might not “click” with your first (or second, or third) therapist, and that’s completely fine. Because therapy is such a personal process, finding a therapist who is easy to talk to is essential to your treatment’s success. Come to your first appointment with a few questions about your therapist’s process, treatment approaches, and areas of expertise to decide if you want to continue with them. If you don’t, that doesn’t mean that therapy’s not right for you, it only means that you need to see someone else.
3.No, Your Therapist Isn’t Judging You
If you tend to be very critical of yourself, it can be hard to realize that your therapist isn’t judging you when they ask you questions or give advice. Some of your therapist’s questions might be hard to answer, but that doesn’t mean they were asked out of judgment – they were probably meant to guide you towards a breakthrough. Like other healthcare professionals, therapists chose their jobs out of a desire to help people, not hurt them.
4. Your Therapist Can’t “Fix” You
One of the most common misconceptions people have when they start therapy is that their therapist can “fix” them – that they will be a passive participant in the process. But therapy requires work on both ends. Think of your therapist as a wilderness guide: they might know how to navigate difficult terrain, but they can’t carry you on their back. You have to pull your own weight to get to where you want to be.
5.You Might Feel Worse Before You Feel Better
Sharing deepest struggles and traumatic experiences can leave you feeling open and vulnerable and might stir up some negative emotions. It can be difficult to open up old wounds, but cleaning those wounds is necessary for safe healing. Talking about your problems can be painful at first, but working through them with a professional’s help can make you feel better again.
At Jamison Consultants, we’re committed to providing our patients with therapeutic and behavioral health services that will make a lasting difference in their lives. Our licensed therapists and counselors are equipped to care for patients with a variety of mental health diagnoses during individual, group, or family therapy, school-based counseling, or crisis management sessions. Learn more about our behavioral health services here.