What To Expect From Therapy
Taking the time to understand yourself can be the start of a healthy process of change and personal development. If you have never had therapy or you are thinking about making your first appointment, you may wonder what therapy will entail.
Questions such as, “Will my therapist think I’m crazy?” or “Do I really have to tell my therapist everything?” or “Will my therapist be able to help?” are quite common. So what happens in therapy and what should you know?
You are Not Alone
Feeling sceptical or hesitant about something you have never tried before is natural, and this applies to therapy too. One of the secrets shared among experienced therapists: You are not the only person experiencing these issues that brought you to therapy, other people are also trying to handle the same or similar issues. Many of them are in therapy as well.
The issues you confront can raise feelings of isolation or uniqueness. Combatting pre-therapy nerves is easier when you remember that you are not alone in your struggle, and that seeking therapy is quite common.
Therapists Work Differently
Another aspect of therapy that is useful to consider is that not all therapists work in the same way. This is due to differences in training programmes, professional backgrounds, or the psychotherapy techniques they integrate into the therapy process. Regardless of their professional style, your therapist should give emotional support while you are in therapy, and help you reflect upon your life challenges.
Keep an Open Mind
During your first appointment, it is helpful if you can keep an open mind. Allow yourself to experience the process, notice how you feel during and afterwards, and then make an informed decision whether or not your therapist is right for you, or if you need more time to decide. Listening to your emotions can help you decide if you and your therapist are a good working fit. Remember, just because someone is a therapist does not necessarily mean that you will feel able to work with them. It is essential, in order for therapy to be successful, that you feel comfortable in speaking with your therapist. Trust is essential.
If after one or several sessions you still feel unsure about your therapist, you may wish to consider speaking to someone else.
Stuck for Something to Say?
Often clients worry about knowing what to talk about during therapy and they struggle over not having anything to say. The difficulty in finding something to say is common, and is actually something to speak about. There are several reasons for why finding something to speak about is difficult (i.e. not feeling comfortable enough, or worrying about being judged if you reveal too much). With your therapist’s help, the two of you may wish to explore the reasons why you are struggling over what to say. You may also be surprised to discover where your conversation will go in therapy if you do not try to plan what you are going to say. What actually comes up in the course of your therapy may come as a surprise to you. This is part of the “talking cure” and one of the reasons why therapy is effective.
Other times in the course of a session there might be silence which can in fact be a powerful aid in therapy. Often, our lives are full of noise and “small talk” which may make silence strange at first, but later it can be very comforting. When we fill the therapy session “space” with words, this leaves room for nothing else. Think of therapy as a cup, if it is already “full” with words, is room for anything else? Silence can create space for experiences that would not typically occur.
Reflecting upon our motivations and behaviour is healthy because it allows us to see how our actions are affecting our lives. Feeling nervous or unsure about starting therapy is normal, but once the right therapist is found this should pass. Working with the right person will help you to feel comfortable enough to reflect upon your life and discover new ways to approach issues. Finally, remembering that you are not the only one experiencing the issues you are dealing with and staying
open-minded can allow you to be more resilient to the therapy process.