For some of us the decision to begin seeing a therapist is a big one and a lot of thought and preparation go into our decision before we make that first initial step into the office. People seek out therapists for a multitude of reasons. Some are in a crisis state and the therapist is there to help us put things into perspective when we need that extra set of eyes and opinions. Some help us work through traumatic experiences that have plagued us for years, and some help us find ways to cope day-to-day with overwhelming stresses and triggers. We see our therapists alone or with loved ones and the help that we receive from them has been, at times, life saving.
In my experience, once we develop a sense of trust with our therapist we find ourselves telling our therapist things that we have never told anyone and the client/therapist relationship is strengthened. With a great client/therapist relationship there is a mutual respect that occurs and at times even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye on certain things, this doesn’t stop the therapist from doing his or her job, nor does it stop the client from being receptive or at least considering what the therapist has to say. Therapy isn’t a cure all, nothing is, but therapy is an amazing tool and a helpful one to help get you back on the right track to balance. The trick is to open your mind and accept the knowledge that maybe you don’t have it all figured out; maybe there is another way to tackle an issue that may be eating you up inside. Therapy isn’t easy, but it is beneficial, and if you have a great therapist and you work therapy, I promise that you will start to se things in an entirely different light.
I’m going to say it again. Therapy isn’t easy. The best client/therapist relationships bring us to a point (in time) where we confront and work through specific issues or triggers that may continue to play a significant role in unsettling our lives. This can be a scary thing, but the best therapists will work at your pace, gently pushing you to move forward but also on the alert to reel you back if need be. Sometimes the biggest hurdle, in my opinion (and remember I’m not a doctor) is getting over our own ego when we walk through the therapist’s door and sit down in that office. It can be difficult to hear that what we have been doing as a coping mechanism for so long has been either unhealthy or contributing to the behaviour that we are trying to “fix” and in this case some of us are likely to get our backs up right out of the gate. If this were the case I would strongly recommend you speaking up right away.
Therapy only works if you work it and keep the lines of communication open. If you go into the client/therapist relationship with vagueness and subtlety at first but commit yourself to sticking to that process, you really aren’t going to see much progress. Imagine trying to pry information out of an unwilling participant when your only objective is to help that person? It’s like trying to nail water to a tree, possible if you put it in a plastic bag first, but not as effective as the desired outcome.
If you start your journey into therapy with a bad attitude about it, or make up your mind to dislike it before your first session, you’re setting yourself up for failure, my friend. I get it, it’s scary and sometimes even the thought of admitting that some qualified outside help is just the ticket to what we need can be disarming or almost like admitting we’re failing, but that’s just not the case. It’s actually a really good thing. You’ve just discovered that what you may have been doing hasn’t necessarily worked to your best advantage in all cases and this is just another tool to help get you back to your best self. I think your choice to step into a client/therapist relationship is a great one, and you should be really proud of yourself.
Your therapist is there to work with you to help find the very best alternatives to help you better your life. Speak openly and candidly about what works and what doesn’t work, and don’t ever be afraid to disagree. If you treat this client/therapist relationship with respect, I have a good feeling that you’ll be seeing some pretty positive results sooner rather than later.