1) There Are Many Reasons To Go To Therapy
It is so important to understand that you do not need to be in crisis to attend therapy. In fact, you don’t even need to have a mental health issue to experience the benefits. Therapy can help with everything from improving your communication skills to being better able to cope when faced with challenges. You should never feel guilty or ashamed for seeking out therapy. Instead, you should feel proud that you are taking control of your life and doing something for yourself.
2) Finding The Right Therapist Is The Most Important Thing
I cannot stress this enough, developing a bond with your therapist is crucial. In those hour long sessions, you need to feel comfortable telling your therapist what is really going on. While building trust and an open dialogue can take time, your therapist should make you feel comfortable in the first couple sessions. Don’t stick with a therapist who you don’t connect with because you will not get the results you are looking for. Therapists recognize the importance of the client-therapist relationship. Many of them will offer short phone consultations or other options so you can see if they may be the right fit for you. It is definitely worth it to keep looking until you find the right one.
3) Your Therapist Can Only Work With What You Tell Them
This is why the bond with your therapist is so important. You need to feel completely comfortable telling them the truth about your past, present, and goals. There is no sugar coating things when speaking with your therapist, it wastes your time and money. It may take time to tell your therapist everything so don’t expect to be comfortable sharing your life story in the first session. Eventually though, you will have to. It can be scary to open up to a stranger, but it can also be easier than telling a friend or family member because you know your therapist is unbiased. You shouldn’t worry about judgement from your therapist. I promise, nothing will shock them, they have heard it all.
4) Having A Professional Validate Your Feelings Is Amazing
While you are not going to see results after your first session, what you should feel is validated. Never underestimate the power of this validation. Your therapist will help dispel any feelings that you are not 'sick enough' to need therapy or that your emotions are invalid. Both of these feelings are very common. It can be incredibly powerful to have someone who is a professional tell you that what you are feeling is valid.
5) But… Don’t Expect To Love Everything Your Therapist Says
While it is your therapist’s job to validate you and make you feel comfortable, do not expect to love everything they say. There is little benefit to a therapist who just agrees with you all the time. Sometimes, therapy comes with a little tough love because they are teaching you to challenge your negative thoughts. Give yourself some time to reflect on what your therapist has said before you dismiss it. It may not be what you wanted to hear but may be what you needed to hear. For example, if you have abandonment issues, your therapist may have you challenge your belief that everyone leaves you. They are not trying to invalidate your experiences but rather get you to recognize that you may be seeing things as all black and white. We all have some negative thought biases, a therapist will help you challenge yours.
6) It Is Not Their Job To Make Decisions For You
A therapist’s job is not to tell you what to do when you cannot decide for yourself. Instead, they will empower you to make decisions on your own. They will help you work through problems on your own and develop the skills to make decisions confidently. Don’t simply present a problem to your therapist and ask them to tell you what to do.
7) There Are Many Different Methodologies and Techniques
Every therapist may have their own personality but there are a few major methodologies used by therapists. Some therapists specialize in a particular type, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). A specific methodology may or may not be right for you so do your research! Other therapists will combine a few different methodologies based on your needs. This is part of finding the right therapist for you!
8) Your Therapist Knows The First Session Can Be Overwhelming
Your first session can seem scary but your therapist will help guide you through it. It may help to write down what some of your goals are and what you’re struggling with before your session. We have a tendency to forget things in the moment. Generally, your therapist will ask you what brought you to therapy and ask for a little background. It can be difficult to get out all the relevant information out in the first session so stick to the basics and let your therapist guide you. They may give you some strategies to try in the short term or they may lay out a plan for treatment. Though you shouldn’t expect any major breakthroughs in the first session.
9) Don’t Expect Results Without Work
In terms of not expecting a breakthrough in you first session, you should also not expect to see real results without putting in effort. Therapy is all about you so you really do get out what you put in. Make sure to give yourself time between sessions to reflect and if your therapist gives homework please make sure you do it!
10) It Is 100% Worth It!
Taking the time to find the right therapist and investing in the process is 100% worth it. There is no question in my mind that every single person can benefit from having a good therapy experience. If you are finding it is not worth it than you are seeing the wrong therapist. This skills you learn in therapy will have an influence on so many aspects of your life. Let’s face it, life is stressful and growing up we’re never formally taught how to cope. Therapy helps you develop more effective and healthier coping skills.