Well I’m sure that’s not actually true as it’s an absolute (like the words “always” or “never”) and absolutes are rarely accurate. When it comes to me, however, I usually have to be dragged kicking and screaming to get to therapy, but I do end up going.
Wait, what – you may ask. But I’m a therapist! Well folks, the ugly truth is out, being vulnerable and looking at our stuff is hard for everyone – even therapists.
Which brings me to my topic for the day – starting therapy can be so freaking hard!
I get it. You are uncomfortable in some way (anxious, depressed, relationship issues, unruly teenager) and the thought of potentially getting more uncomfortable is abhorrent. For those of us who like to avoid, sitting and talking about those difficult issues is highly uncomfortable and even frightening to us. For those of you out there who feel this way, know that a skilled therapist will ease you into this. They will deftly maneuver conversations in and out of discomfort as appropriate – sometimes saving more difficult things for later and sometimes letting you stew a little in your unease.
The thing with therapy though, is that you are never alone with these feelings. That stupid voice in your head that tells you that you are damaged, or stupid, or silly, or should be able to deal with these feelings, or inadequate, or sub in whatever negative self talk is your go to, your therapist is aware of that and is going to challenge that and help you to confront that voice.
So some of us are afraid of being uncomfortable. For others, it is the fear of vulnerability. That if we lay ourselves bare, we will ultimately be rejected. In our heads it looks something like this – we share something in therapy and our therapist’s expression turns to one of disgust and they silently write something (omg what is she writing) on that pad of paper in their lap. Or even worse they tell us that we may be the craziest person that they have ever dealt with.
Um, please. If your therapist does these things, RUN!
For those of us with this fear of vulnerability, therapy can actually be refreshing. Someone is sitting with us, supportive, nodding, and saying something along the lines of “you are normal”. And its the truth.
A therapist will help you to differentiate between you and your symptoms if you have something clinical going on and then help you to manage those symptoms.
Lastly, there are those of us who are so miserable and have been so failed by those around us, that we are entirely out of hope that we can ever change ourselves or get better. Yup, I’m talking to you out there that says “Nothing works for me. I have tried therapy and it doesn’t work ( see my post on therapist fit)”.
If this was truly the case, I would not have a job. Besides, what do you have to lose? 1 hour of your week? It could be worth it. Hope is a tricky thing and usually some of those other two reasons (fear of being rejected or uncomfortable) are tied into that loss of hope as well.
With all of these issues, as always, I recommend being straightforward with the therapist that you are choosing. Tell them at the start that you are hesitant. I never take offense when I have clients call and tell me that they don’t think therapy works or they are skeptical. Honestly, I am mentally going “game on”!
I love the opportunity to change someone’s mind about the therapy process!
Therapists get it. Really. Most of the good ones I know have sat on that couch and been a client themselves, and know some of that discomfort you feel.
So if you have considered starting therapy but find that some of these things are holding you back, make that jump! Give it a try and approach it with honesty. You will thank me.