What have you heard about therapy that makes you want to avoid it? Growing up, my impression of therapy was mostly taken from the show "Growing Pains" where Alan Thicke's character was a psychiatrist who ran his practice out of his home. He seemed nice enough and he did not talk about his clients (which is a good thing since we are bound by confidentiality!). But, everything about what he did seemed mysterious. What went on behind that closed door?
It is this mystery that sometimes confuses people about therapy or may even turn them off. Questions like "what does it mean if I'm in therapy?" or "what will my therapist think about me?" make people hesitant to start and sometimes stay in therapy. I think this is understandable considering how little the media shows positive therapy experiences, how much silence there is around therapy (i.e. there are people you know who are in therapy but do not talk about it), and how positive mental health is not always promoted the same way as good physical health. But, I'm going to encourage you to take a look at yourself and what you need and think about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Here is what I want you to know about therapy to help you in your decision to start:
- Therapy is not someone telling you what to do or giving you advice.
- You may have enough people in your life who will be glad to tell you what to do - friends, family, coworkers, your hairstylist who you vent to about your day. You do not need one more person telling you what to do.
- What you do need is someone who is going to challenge you to come to your own conclusions about what is best for you based on your needs and new knowledge about yourself that you gain. You also need to have some difficult discussions with someone who is not going to judge you or have their own thoughts about what you should do based on their own experiences. Therapists will be neutral and work to understand your frame of reference when helping vs. using their own personal experiences to guide you. You are not me, so why would what worked for me work for you? What is more important is getting you to see what works for YOU.
- Therapy is for everyone!
- You can have diagnosed mental health concerns and come to therapy (i.e. depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, phobias, etc.) or you can want to work on personal growth, decision making issues, assertiveness, etc. You can also have both. Bottom line - therapy is for everyone because everyone goes through highs and lows in life. Everyone has times when they feel like they need someone else's thoughts and ideas to help them through. Everyone needs someone in their life who they can completely open up to without judgment and without an agenda.
- Therapists offer a non-judgmental, open, genuine space for you to be you. The point of having a therapist is for you to have someone who is trained to help you while also being caring, understanding and encouraging.
- You can always change therapists if you are not comfortable with him or her. Sometimes both people can be amazing people but the fit is not there. Shopping for a therapist is like shopping for a car...you have to find what is right for you.
- Therapists may not share a lot about their own lives and this is purposely done. The whole point of therapy is for you to have time to share what you need to share and the focus should be on you vs. your therapist. We want that time to be yours.
Now that you have some information on what therapy is really about and how it can help, my question to you is...why not therapy?