Starting therapy is a courageous decision, but it can also be overwhelming and intimidating. If you're considering therapy or have been contemplating taking that first step, here are some valuable insights that I wish I had known before beginning my own therapeutic journey.
1. Embrace the Awkwardness:
Don't be alarmed if therapy feels strange or uncomfortable at first. It takes time to adjust and open up to a stranger about your innermost struggles and vulnerabilities. Remember, therapy offers valuable support and a dedicated space just for you.
2. It's Not a Quick Fix:
Therapy is a personal process, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach. If you don't experience profound "aha" moments right from the start, don't worry. Each person's therapeutic journey is unique, and progress unfolds at its own pace.
3. Finding the Right Fit:
Finding the right therapist is crucial, and it may take some trial and error. Just because someone else finds their therapist helpful doesn't guarantee they'll be the perfect match for you. Trust your instincts, and don't hesitate to explore other options if your current therapist doesn't feel like the right fit.
4. No Need to Be in Crisis:
Therapy isn't reserved solely for times of crisis or mental health diagnoses. It's perfectly okay to seek therapy without a clear reason or specific goals in mind. Everyone's needs and aspirations for therapy differ, and there's no right or wrong reason to begin.
5. It Can Be Challenging:
Therapy can be emotionally demanding, and it's not uncommon to feel drained after a session. Allow yourself to navigate the discomfort, even when it's tough. Remember, growth often requires confronting and working through challenging emotions.
6. Mindful Timing:
Consider scheduling therapy sessions at a time that allows for proper self-care afterwards. Delving into deep and heavy topics right before work may not be ideal. Give yourself space to decompress and reflect, perhaps by jotting down notes after each session.
7. Small Talk Is Okay:
Don't feel pressured to dive straight into deep emotional discussions. It's perfectly acceptable to engage in small talk and gradually build rapport and comfort with your therapist. Therapy is a journey, and it takes time to establish a level of trust and openness.
8. Therapists Can Be Challenging:
Therapists aren't there to give you direct instructions or provide quick fixes. Sometimes, their challenging questions and prompts may be frustrating. However, it's through this discomfort that meaningful self-reflection and personal growth often occur.
9. Patience is Key:
Therapy is not a race; it's a process that unfolds at its own pace. Avoid putting unnecessary pressure on yourself for quick results. Embrace the varying length of therapy based on your individual goals. Remember, your journey is unique and incomparable to others'.
10. Embrace Imperfections:
You don't need to present your best self during therapy sessions. It's not a performance or a job interview. Remember that you're there for yourself, and it's okay to be vulnerable and authentic. Your therapist is there to support and guide you without judgment.
Taking the first steps towards therapy can feel daunting, but I hope these insights make the decision to start a bit easier. Although therapy may sometimes feel like a challenging process, hang in there—it's a worthwhile endeavour that can lead to personal growth and positive change.