If you are struggling with relationships, divorce, self-esteem, career, addictions, anxiety, depression…..or just about any other human dilemma, therapy can help.
When I get calls from people looking for a therapist, they often say “I’ve been wanting to talk to someone for years, but finally got the nerve to call.” Why is it so tough to make that first contact? I think the problem is lack of information. For some people there is still a stigma about therapy which holds them back, and for others there are fears about the process itself, with no clear path to asking questions. Those fears, and that stigma, is what prompted me to write the book, Someone To Talk To; Understanding How Therapy Heals.
Talking to someone about your personal problems can be uncomfortable at first, but what are your choices? When you are hurting you might talk to friends or family, but they can only help up to a point, for two reasons: First, there is no way you will tell them every detail of what you feel or what actually happens, because it would be too embarrassing to be that open with them. Second, friends and family members are not trained in the art and science of psychotherapy, which means they literally can’t help you the way a therapist can.
So, what are the actual fears or beliefs that make people wait so long, or never take the first step?
1). The belief that therapy is not for “healthy” people.
Not true. Just as we need to care for our bodies when we are sick and when we are healthy, we need to care for our emotions too. Therapy helps heal painful emotions, and also teaches us how to take better care of ourselves.
2). The belief that the asking for help means you are ‘weak’.
Also not true. Using the example of physical wellness again, we all need an expert’s help in order to take care of ourselves, whether it is a doctor, a trainer, or a therapist.
3). The hope that problems will “go away on their own.“
Some do, some don’t. If you have already waited a long time, don’t waste more time with false hope. Therapy can help.
4). The belief that therapists are like the negative stereotypes on TV and in movies.
Not realistic! TV and movies do not represent the actual therapy process, or the real therapists you will encounter.
5). Fear of facing feelings and situations head-on.
This is a big one for a lot of people. Avoidance of feelings can work for a while, but it eventually leads to addictions, emotional shut-down, and worsening of situations.
6.) Fear of being embarrassed of out of control.
It is normal to feel some embarrassment at first, but it will go away. And a therapist will help you to open up slowly, so you can process feelings in a way that is not overwhelming.
So, what really happens in therapy? Many articles and books recommend therapy– but none of them tell the reader what to expect from the experience, or how it can help. Here are a few clues:
- You will have a confidential place to completely express your problems and your feelings.
Opening up is an unburdening, and therefore already a help.
- You will talk about your past, starting with your childhood.
All of us have wounds from childhood – it’s part of life. We are shaped by our parents, guardians, and the circumstances in which we grew up. You will learn how those people and those circumstances formed your emotional makeup, your strengths ands your sensitivities.
- Your therapist will talk with you about your feelings, your thoughts, your beliefs, and your actions.
You will begin to see certain patterns in your life, and the reasons those patterns exist. You will develop a clearer awareness of yourself and the people around you.
- You will find the courage to change things in your life that are causing pain and problems now.
As you make new choices in your life you will have a lot to talk about, because you will have a lot of new feelings and thoughts.
It does take courage to change, to open up, to be vulnerable. The more you know about therapy, the better prepared and braver you will be to take that first step. To get a more comprehensive, insider’s look into what therapy is like, read SOMEONE TO TALK TO; Understanding How Therapy Heals.